His knobby knees knocked. His heart raced. His palms were so sweaty, he needed a "wet floor” sign next to his desk.
The 13-year-old had slogged through a challenging year at home and, moments earlier, his homeroom teacher had revealed in dramatic fashion that when the report cards were distributed at the end of class, one would show that someone had failed the seventh grade and would be retained.
Someone in the back of the room asked what the word meant. “In this case,” the teacher announced, “retained means he’s going to repeat the seventh grade.”