Rachel Carson students were each assigned one of eight Programs of Focus. It was not all that different from having a major in college. Though the students inevitably just referred to them by their number, the programs were Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Formal Sciences, Language Arts, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Leadership, and Kinesthetics. Astrid and Christopher were both in Program One. Of course every student’s course of study was tailored specifically for him. Even though Christopher and Astrid were both in the same program, each of their studies were weighted toward different areas, which was why they only shared one class together. Each program had a team room, and inside each team room was a lounge area and two locker rooms, one for girls and one for boys. Astrid and Christopher walked into the Program One team room, and then into their respective locker rooms. Astrid pulled her books and digital tablet from her backpack and then placed it in her locker.
She was headed to her first class when she found herself walking along next to Mark McGovern.
“Hello, Nerd,” he said.
“Hello, Mark,” she said brightly. “How does it feel to be a junior?”
“Pretty cool,” he said, adding a little swagger to his step.
“What class do you have now?”
“Why do you care?” he demanded.
“I have Advanced Orchestra, but you’d better not make fun of it.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” said Astrid, but Mark hurried ahead before she could add that she was on her way to the same class.
Astrid had not had a music class since Junior High, but she had been able to place into Advanced Orchestra because of her regular practice at home. She retrieved her oboe from the cabinet and took her place, to find that she was seated right next to Mark. They were, in fact, the only two oboes in the orchestra. She looked around for a friendly face, knowing that Austin played viola, but he apparently wasn’t part of the class. She spotted quite a few faces that she knew, but nobody she knew well. With a shrug, she turned her attention to Mrs. Werner, the instructor.
“Boy am I glad to see you, Austin,” she said, upon arriving at her second class.
“I hardly know anyone in my orchestra class. It’s good to see a friendly face. How come you aren’t in that class with me?”
“I have Concert Orchestra third period,” he explained. “This year is going to suck! This is the only class I have with any of my friends.”
“That may not be completely true,” said Astrid.
“All right, class,” said Miss Gracie. “Take your positions. We’re going to start out with some basic moves.”
When Astrid got to her third period class, there were only two students sitting in class, one boy and one girl, neither of whom she had ever seen before. Astrid took her seat and waited, but no one else showed up to fill any of the remaining seats.
“Hi. I’m Astrid,” she said.
“We know who you are,” said the boy. “I can’t believe we have a class with you. My dad said we might.”
“I’m Michelle,” said the girl, “and this is my brother Artie.”
“Arthur,” he corrected. “We just moved here from Alaska.”
“Our dad is going to be the new chief of the Maxxim Fabrication facility.”
“Oh yeah,” said Astrid. “Mr. Gortner is moving to Detroit to work with my uncle. So, you two are brother and sister?”
“We’re twins,” said Michelle.
“Not identical, obviously,” added Arthur.
“You guys must be really smart,” said Astrid. “This is an advanced class. Where did you go to school before?”
“We’ve never gone to a regular school,” said Michelle. “We’ve always been home schooled.”
“That’s mostly because we lived in the Arctic, and there wasn’t a school close,” added her brother.
At that moment, Dr. Born entered from the door at the back of the class.
“Welcome to the wonderful world of Materials Management,” he said.
“What do you guys have next?” asked Astrid at the end of class.
“Calculus IV,” said Michelle. “My dad says we might be the only ones in the class.”
“Nope,” said Astrid. “We don’t have to go anywhere, because it’s the same classroom and the same teacher.”
“That’s good,” said Arthur. “I hate having to fight the crowd.”
Astrid didn’t point out that Rachel Carson High School had much less crowded halls than any school she had ever heard of.
“It must be weird going to school with so many people,” she said.
“It’s weird seeing so many people at all,” said Arthur. “Our town in Alaska only had eighty-five people.”
Christopher walked into the room and sat down, completing the class compliment.
“Hello,” he said. “You two were in my Medieval History class.”
“This is Michelle and Arthur,” introduced Astrid. “I didn’t catch your last name.”
“Pennington,” they said together.
Dr. Born stood up from his desk and started with a warm up activity involving vector operations.
After class, the four of them walked to the quad together. They stepped into the lunch line and received their lunches, which consisted of roasted swordfish, grilled asparagus with lemon pesto, French beans with heirloom tomatoes and hot cherry peppers, and for dessert, roasted pears with mascarpone.