This student reflects back on her/his time in high school and knows that, as a freshman, s/he would have found it incredible to think that Ms. Gruwell would last more than a month in this class. Now, however, some of these very same students are going to attend the most prestigious universities in the country. S/he notes that it is only once the students were able to reject the stereotypes with which the education system had labeled them that they were able to succeed.
This student realizes that what Ms. Gruwell’s class needed was to break free from the mold that the education system had placed them into, since negative stereotypes only led them to behave as they were expected to behave: badly. By giving them other standards of behavior, as well as opportunities to dream and be ambitious, Ms. Gruwell reversed this process, encouraging students to have high standards for themselves.
These students were able to overcome their cultural and racial differences and, now, cannot imagine living and working without each other. This student recalls the trust that the Freedom Writers gradually put in education, as they learned that a pen could be more powerful than guns and violence. They used to try to destroy Ms. Gruwell’s morale, but she always proved that she was able to overcome their efforts. This student identifies a major turning point as the “Toast for Change” in sophomore year, when each student was given a second chance.
Ms. Gruwell demonstrated her own inner strength and resilience by avoiding discouragement in the face of her students’ provocations. She thus became a model of stability and reliability that her students could emulate, as well as a powerful example of the possibility to embrace education over violence—a goal she exemplified in her classroom, as she always valued conversation and cooperation over punishment.
During junior year, they were reading books meant for advanced placement classes. Senior year, they became famous for their achievements. This student realizes that having this class as a family allowed many students to reunite with their original family, changing their behavior so that they would lead a more stable, healthy life. While s/he expresses her sadness at losing classroom 203, s/he wonders what awaits them next, and trusts that Ms. Gruwell will not give up on them.
This student establishes a direct connection between external stability (in the form of the Freedom Writers’ support) and internal stability (in the form of self-confidence and strength), emphasizing the way in which one’s environment can shape one’s behavior. S/he trusts that the stability the Freedom Writers provides is permanent, unable to be affected by events such as graduation.