Rock The Bells


By Krista Wortendyke

It’s a cool Tuesday in mid-July at Tilden Career Academy. Ms. Holmes, Shonkela and Larry roll into the office all laughs and smiles.

Larry is out of uniform. It was too cold for an extra large horsed Polo shirt today, so he wore his self-proclaimed “Cosby sweater.”

Shonkela wore a white zip-up hoodie covered in pictures of her friend and classmate Endia Martin, who was killed in late April.

The photographs appeared to be taken from Instagram. The shirt read “Long live Queen Endia” on the front and “Endia World” on the back. Shonkela had the shirt made at a custom-clothing shop at 48th and Ashland for $50.

Larry was surprised it wasn’t more. He said it’s usually at least $4 per letter.


Larry and Shonkela talked us through their week.

Larry said his week was boring. He thinks video taping his life is just proving how boring he really is. He keeps thinking that maybe some day he’ll do something that other people may want to see, but in the meantime, he can’t imagine why we want to know about his life.

Shonkela voiced much of the same sentiment but said that there was a fight on her block this week – a light-skinned guy and dark-skinned guy fought over a few dollars, so that was interesting. It was surprising she even noticed because Shonkela is known to walk through a fight without even seeing it.

In response, Ms. Holmes chimed in:

LL Cool J I’m hard as hell

I’ll battle anybody I don’t care who you tell

Larry was excited to hear that those lyrics were from an LL Cool J song because his Daddy always says that to him. When I told him that LL Cool J was short for Ladies Love Cool James, he wrinkled his nose and retorted that LL must have spent a whole minute thinking that name up.

About 25 minutes into the meeting, Bryan called Ms. Holmes with a sob story about why he wasn’t there.

An hour into the meeting, Jabarria came in exhausted from her other job building bicycles. Today they rode the bikes they built to the lakefront, roughly a 3-mile ride each way.

She was upset that they rode all the way there just to ride all the way back without being able to spend any time at the lake. She felt like it was as exercise in futility. She said her week was spent mostly working her bike job or staying safe inside the house.

Jabarria doesn’t like to go out for fear she’ll be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If the one notable thing that happened this week in these kids’ lives was a fight on Shonkela’s street, then here’s to another boring week!

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  1. urban213

    July 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    I would like to here more about Jabarria’s bike building job — sounds interesting. (From Curtis Lawrence @ Columbia College Journalism.


  2. Kristina Gosh

    July 23, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I’m thoroughly enjoying reading about all the “boring”.
    Keep finding the extraordinary in the ordinary y’all ~ that’s where the magic is.
    Thanks for sharing!


  3. Dr Camilla Larsen

    July 31, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    The interesting story for outsiders to your world is in the “boring” details. How do you survive? What do you think about? What do you know that other people who haven’t grown up on your block wouldn’t know? How can you make sense out of losing a friend? Keep writing. Keep thinking. Keep going.


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