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Brian Johnson: Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong…but we think you’re crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us… In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…
Andrew Clark: …and an athlete…
Allison Reynolds: …and a basket case…
Claire Standish: …a princess…
John Bender: …and a criminal…
Brian Johnson: Does that answer your question?
Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.

I wasn’t sure how Year Two of The Invictus Project would go. Unlike the first project in 2011, I hadn’t had most of these students in my writing classes. In fact, I rarely teach writing at all anymore.

There’s a few hold-overs for sure: Malik, Jordan, Matt, and Dave. Most of this group, though, had come across me through other classes I taught in the Digital Media Minor, my work with the National Association of Black Journalists, or through word of mouth.

We were all a room of strangers, which meant that they had a longer road to walk when it came to working together. They hadn’t gone through the inevitable bonding experience my classes provide as I continually for my students to edit, edit, edit, and then edit more until we run out of time to edit any more.

Still, this quiet group — and they are supremely quiet — started to pull together throughout the second semester. I suspect that much of their bonding is happening away from my watchful eyes, which is exactly as this should be.

That not a single one has dropped out of the process says much about them, as well. In 2011, nearly 1/2 the original writers left at some point. In 2012, we’ve lost only 1. This makes my editing job all the more difficult, which is exactly as I want.

We are nearing the end of Invictus Vol. 2, and the words are beginning to flow across the page, and new stories are being written. This group, The Breakfast Club as we’ve dubbed ourselves, has been more tentative than my first group, more cautious of how their words will flow into the world.

But where they are the same — which is always the part that interests me the most — is their individual and collective desire to find a way to make their words mean.

As writers, as storytellers, as The Breakfast Club, this is all we can try to do.

We are Invictus.

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