On Thursday, December 8, students, families, 826 tutors, and staff gathered in Mission High School’s cafeteria to celebrate the release of the chapbook The Ocean Within Me. The chapbook is a collection of autobiographies, compelling snapshots of the lives of ninth graders in Ms. Hacker’s Mission High English classes.
“The days leading up to adoption were like the flood inside of me pouring out lots of stinging bees. I could not control my anger and anxiety because I was done with moving and I wanted to stay in San Francisco with Zoe… Zoe said, ‘I do want Gigi to be my daughter,’ with tears rolling down her face. My little ocean within me gave out one last, short wave before calming down for a while.”
—Gigi Mullery, “My Ocean”
The Ocean Within Me documents students’ struggles and discoveries, their moments of hilarity and heartache. As new high schoolers, this collection shows the students reflecting on where they started and how far they’ve come.
Amidst the slurping of Capri Suns and the patter of rain outside, students and families marveled at the chapbook’s cover art designed by volunteer Laura Bagnato, a message in a bottle floating out to sea, as they got lost in each heartfelt page. Attendees were then lucky enough to hear students read their essays to the crowd.
Ms. Hacker personally introduced each of her students as they stood up to present, highlighting their excellent work ethic, their talents as writers, and their kindness as individuals. Students cheered on their peers, listeners laughed and some cried; a communal sense of encouragement and empowerment filled the cafeteria. Whether the students shared stories about picking up a skateboard for the first time, learning how it feels to lose someone, or even how it feels to love someone—the courage in these young authors’ reflections was undeniable.
Thank you to Ms. Hacker, students and families, and our volunteers for helping us celebrate the stories of these amazing authors!