Your Dreams are Reachable
by Jessica Smith (age 16, Clondalkin, Dublin)
Your education should help you use and develop your talents and abilities. It should also help you learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people.
Running down Clare Street, a jacket held over his head, shielding his hair from the lashings of rain. This is the day he has dreamt about for years.
The National Gallery was empty. He ran around looking for it; his childhood dream, his greatest achievement, his . . .
“Jay!” His name was called, and he was back in school again. “Get out of your head.” This was not the first time his history teacher yelled at him for his daydreaming.
At 3.30, his Irish teacher asked him to stay after class for a few minutes.
“So, are you gonna do it?” he asked when the rest of the class had left.
“Do what?” Jay replied, packing his bag.
“The art competition . . . with James Hanley?” Mr Park began cleaning off the whiteboard.
“What art thing?” He stood and put his coat on. The teacher turned to look at him.
“You serious? I thought you had art today.”
“I did?” His forehead scrunched in confusion.
“And Miss Collins didn’t mention anything to you?”
“No, why? What is it?”
“You know James Hanley, don’t you? Well, he’s giving 30 students in all of Ireland a chance to do an art project with him and the winner’s work is gonna get shown on his website. I told your teacher this morning about it . . . she probably just forgot.” He made the excuse for his colleague, but they both knew the she didn’t forget by mistake.
Oli waited for Jay just outside the school gates, where multiple groups of friends stood talking after school. Oli’s bright ginger head of hair made him easy to spot though.
They both walked back to Oli’s house slowly while Jay told Oli about why Mr Park wanted to speak to him.
“Which one’s Miss Collins again?” Unlike Jay, Oli had no interest in art; so little interest in fact, that the three art teachers were the only teachers he didn’t know in the whole school.
“The one with the frizzy brown hair,” replied Jay as they walked into Oli’s empty kitchen.
“Oh right. Maybe she did just forget.”
Jay scoffed as he grabbed two coke cans from the fridge and sat at the table with Oli. “That woman will not forget anything until she gets Alzheimer’s.”
“Fair enough,” Oli chuckled.
The next time Jay had art, he stayed back after the bell rang to talk to his teacher.
“You’re going to be late for your next class,” she said when he approached her. She was sitting at her computer, marking attendance.
“I just wanna know why you didn’t tell me about the project with James Hanley?” enquired Jay.
“Because I don’t think you’re good enough for the spot.” She turned to look at him.
“There’s a spot? So you mean someone from our school has a definite spot in the project?”
“That’s what I mean. The art department got together and decided Allison Bromley would be best for the spot.”
“What?” He was shocked. “How many times have I told you about how badly I want to be an artist, why didn’t you even consider me?”
“You are not as good as Allison is, you haven’t even finished your Leaving Cert project.”
“But I’ve tried so hard on everything you assign us, I’ve asked you to help me and you say no every time.”
“I don’t have time to work on lost causes, I have 20 other students to deal with. Now get to your next class! I’m busy.”
“She’s probably right, I’m a lost cause.” Jay was speaking to his mam and Oli in his kitchen that night. His dad was snoring on the couch in the other room.
“Oh, shut up!” Oli said. The other two looked at him. “What? Those who can’t do, teach. Isn’t it? She doesn’t know anything. I’ve never seen someone paint or sketch as well as you do. And all that aside, she’s violating your rights.”
Head in his hand, Jay shrugged “So?”
“No, he’s right,” said Jay’s mam. She typed something into the laptop she had open in front of her. “ ‘Your education should help you use and develop your talents and abilities. It should also help you learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people’,” she read as she twirled her hair around her finger, mumbling the last part.
“Can we sue? Because that sounds like the opposite of what Miss Collins did,” Oli asked.
“I’m not sure . . . but I think we should definitely get a meeting with your principal. And if we don’t get you that spot with James Hanley, then we can threaten to sue.” She smiled.
“Your ma’s a legend,” Oli said to Jay as he was leaving.
“Yeah, I know.” He smirked.
Thirty-six hours later, Jay and his mam were in the principal’s office complaining about Miss Collins and demanding that Jay get the spot with James Hanley.
“Okay, I hear what you’re saying and I will definitely talk to Miss Collins about this behaviour, but the spot has already been given to Allison,” he said, tapping his finger on the table with every other word. “If you want it that bad, you’re going to have to talk to her about it.”
After his mam left, Jay went to find his Irish teacher. He was free this period.
“Do you know where Allison Bromley is?” Jay asked.
“No,” replied Mr Park, “but I can check her timetable if you want?” He pointed to his computer.
“Would you?” After a minute of looking, he found that Allison was in geography and Jay was gone before he could ask why he wanted to know.
The strictest teacher in the school opened the door to the room Allison was in.
“Who wants her?” she asked when Jay asked for her.
“Eh, Mr Park,” answered Jay. The teacher stared at him for a few seconds before sending out Allison. Jay brought her out of sight of the class to talk to her.
“Hey, so I know you got this spot for an art project with James–”
“You can have it,” she interrupted.
“Yeah, of course! I was going to give it to you anyway. I didn’t want it and I know how passionate you are about art.”
He hugged her suddenly and she laughed.
“I’ve to get back,” she said when he let go, “but I’ll text you all the info I have later, okay?”
“Yeah, yeah perfect. You’re a star, Allison, thank you!” he said as she walked away and she smiled brightly at him. He practically skipped back to Mr Park’s office and plopped himself down in a chair when he got there.
“So . . . what happened?”
Jay took a deep breath and sighed, “A lot.”
Your education should help you use and develop your talents and abilities. It should also help you learn to live peacefully, protect the environment and respect other people