Dear Mrs. Gruwell,
Your book, The Freedom Writers Diary, has given me a very heartfelt message about our society. I never realized that the pain and suffering so many people face could hurt me too, just by reading about it.
I didn't really grasp how much suffering some kids endure just to get through a day and stay alive. It is very sad. I used to think, "Why can't those people get a paying job and provide for their family?" I guess it is more complicated than that. I never really stopped to think about living on the street, or being beaten by my father, but when I read your book it touched me deeply.
You gave your students something I've been given all my life, only I didn't even know it. There's not a checklist on my refrigerator telling me why I should get good grades or go to high school or even to college. I just know I will. Why? Because my parents modeled it for me. You were the best role model for students. They looked up to you and treasured every moment they had with you, just like I do my parents. They are the ones who provide for me when I need it, but not just money. They provide love and guidance through rough times.
I go to school, happy and excited to see my friends. At my school there is no physical fighting or even verbal fighting. It is hard to imagine what it would be like if there were distinct groups like the African-Americans, the Hispanics, and the "White" people. Discrimination is all the kids at Woodrow Wilson High School knew. They knew that if they were in the wrong place at the wrong time they could get beaten up, so they made sure to stand up for what they believe in.
You make my school sound so perfect, even though it has flaws. In Long Beach some of the students are lacking a decent life and family, some more than others, and I get to go home to a peaceful house. In my house, there are no guns or weapons that are needed to protect me, because my family has one another and we lock all the doors. In Long Beach, some people most likely sleep on the floor, or with another person in a small bed. I just didn't comprehend how that could be possible, since I have two siblings and all three of us have our own beds, and our own rooms.
I never have to worry about being alone, or getting killed, because that has never been an issue in my household. Kids in Long Beach at Woodrow Wilson High School can barely step outside their house, whereas I can go play in the green grass without anyone bothering me. I obviously have different opportunities than the students in the book.
In the end, The Freedom Writers pulled together and created a group that no one believed in. There were kids from all races, but that didn't stop them. They stayed together and gained a loyal friendship with one another. For all of their lives, they had been treated very poorly, but then you came along, and showed them the way, and look where they ended up! Finishing high school, headed to college! Major accomplishments! Thanks for showing me how one true inspirational leader can change so many lives!
Ryan Emily Delahunt