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At 4:30AM a fourteen year old boy rolls over to turn off his alarm. He has twenty minutes to get up, dressed, and out the door to catch the city bus that picks him up at the apartments across the street from his house. Sixty-four minutes and one transfer later will find him at the bus stop across the street from his school. Thirteen hours later he will board the same bus and head home. This sequence of events is repeated three hundred and fifty times across the city of San Antonio as students attending KIPP: Aspire Academy prepare for another day of school.
These students attend classes from 7:30AM to 5:00PM. They have school two Saturdays a month and 2-3 weeks in the summer. For every hour of instruction the average American middle-schooler receives, a KIPP Aspire student received 1½ hours. The school is free and has a waiting list over 100 names long. Students are chosen by lottery with only one prerequisite: they must live inside Loop 410. Loop 410 is a stretch of interstate that encircles the city of San Antonio. Inside the Loop are some of the poorest ZIP Codes in the country and it is from these neighborhoods that KIPP: Aspire Academy pulls its students. These students have committed to work hard academically and stretch themselves creatively in ways many of their peers never have the opportunity to do. The writing and artwork inside this book are the fruits of that effort. A collection of poetry and memoirs interspersed by original artwork and photography, Writing Inside Loop 410 is a lyrical and moving reading experience showing that with determination and the courage to face the blank page, all our country s children are capable of brilliant artistic achievement, regardless of race or ZIP Code. Proceeds from this book will fund KIPP Aspire Academy s ongoing effort to send every single one of its students to college.
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Editor and compiler of this work, Jay Gowen, teaches 8th grade English and Shakespeare at KIPP Aspire Academy. He is also founding teacher and director of curriculum for Deerfield Academy's KIPP-STEP summer program. Mr. Gowen, as the teacher to these contributing writers, has worked tirelessly in encouraging his students in their creative writing efforts. He lives in San Antonio, TX with his wife and two young children.
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