The students’ mission is clear—discover the treasure before the FBI locks down the building. To stay one step ahead of the FBI, they must delve into history and amass an arsenal to defend their school … because this is WAR!
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|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||9 - 12 Years|
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The gentle flump of a fly against the window caught his attention. Dennis eyed it as the fly repeatedly bumped against the pane. Stupid thing. Lucky to be outside and didn't know it. He gazed beyond the fly and longed to be out in the Fall air. Why did the school have to be nestled against the Blue Ridge Mountains?
Hiking on the trails, fishing in the river, or even rambling through the cemetery — better than being cooped up in a stuffy classroom all day. He closed his eyes and imagined trading places with the fly. Tilting his chair against the back wall, he rubbed the shark tooth hanging from his paracord necklace. You wouldn't catch him trying to get into a classroom; he'd soar all over town — a short flight. Then he'd fly over Humpback Mountain to the Blue Ridge Parkway and zigzag along toward Asheville, North Carolina.
Maddie Harper's voice made Dennis's eyes pop open, drawn to where she entered the breakout room. His fingers froze then slid off the tooth. The way she looked oughta be against the rules. Her short plaid skirt, barely regulation length, flounced as she made her way through the room, greeting friends.
Not that she'd ever pay him any attention. His reputation for getting kicked out of schools got to Washington Academy before he did. A loser in her eyes, and he wouldn't be around long enough for her to bother with.
Dennis remembered the pep talk from his dad, Charles, before being sent to Washington Academy Middle School. A pep talk mixed with warnings about what would happen if he got kicked out this time. Charles had laced encouragement with threats while lecturing him with things like, "You've got a brain in your head, why don't you use it?" The worst threat? Military school. Charles had gone on and on about how military school would straighten him out.
Maybe Dennis should be thankful. In one lecture, Charles had said more to Dennis than in the last six months, combined. Charles had even told him their chauffeur, Ben, would drop him off and pick him up every day. Like Ben hadn't done the same thing at his past three schools. Dennis was surprised Charles hadn't had Ben deliver the speech. Dennis talked with Ben a lot more than he did his dad because Charles traveled so much.
Spencer Jackson pulled a tarantula on a string out of his pocket and dangled it behind Selena Woodham's head. His buddies nearly fell off their chairs trying to suppress their laughter while Spencer inched the spider closer to Selena's shoulder.
Dennis shook his head. The Halloween decorations were barely up and Spencer was already busy playing pranks. Selena was so caught up in her conversation with Terese she didn't flinch when the tarantula landed on her shoulder. Spencer used the string to brush Selena's cheek with a fuzzy spider leg.
Selena shrieked and bolted out of her chair.
Spencer laughed so hard his face turned red. He bounced the spider on the end of the string. "Wooooooo. I vant to drink your blood."
Selena put her hands on her hips. "Get your Halloween stuff straight. Especially if you plan to scare the living daylights out of someone. Vampires don't make ghost noises and the animal is a bat, not a stupid fake spider."
The door swung open and Ms. Rectanus bustled in. Maybe his class would find out why the entire seventh grade had been asked to gather in the Morgan room instead of their regular classrooms.
She glanced in his direction as she passed. "Mr. Alexander, all four legs belong on the floor."
Dennis pushed off the wall and brought the chair down with a thud.
Shifting the books she carried to her other arm, Ms. Rectanus didn't break stride. "Mr. Jackson, put your toys away and take a seat."
Nearly late again, Rhonda Snodgrass scuttled through the door. Her frizzy light-brown hair stood out from her head. Dennis bet they could conduct electricity with her hair and snickered at the thought. She peered around the room for a seat, found one away from the rest of their classmates, and plopped down as Ms. Rectanus called the room to order.
Chairs scraped and thudded against the floor, the sound mingling with the paper rustling, whispers, and giggles. Dennis watched Rhonda as she dug a notebook out of her backpack. He didn't understand why everyone picked on her so much. She wasn't a knock-out like Maddie, but she wasn't ugly. And she was funny. But Curtis Vanhouten was the only person he'd seen being nice to her. That surprised Dennis because Curtis seemed more the jock type than anything else. And jocks didn't care about anything but sports.
The room quieted. Ms. Rectanus stood at the front next to a projector hooked to a computer. "I'm sure you're wondering why we asked you to deviate from the normal schedule and gather here." The fluorescent lights winked off her glasses as she scanned the room and a smile curved her lips. "It's not because we like to torture you, as I'm sure some of you are thinking."
Muffled laughter circulated the room.
"Seventh graders at Washington Academy Middle School, upset with how teachers ran the school, staged a revolution last week. The bloodless revolution was successful and you are now in charge of deciding the new direction and new policies for the seventh grade."
She stopped speaking. Dennis sat straighter in his chair.
Maybe this school wouldn't be so bad after all. A revolution sounded interesting.
Rhonda's head jerked up when Ms. Rectanus said the seventh grade would be in charge. How cool. The teachers and the assignments almost made up for all the teasing she put up with. But this — a chance to put into practice some ideas floating around in her head? Brilliant.
Ms. Rectanus waited for the chattering to stop. When it didn't, she held up her hand and the room quieted again. "You have two days to agree on the changes you want to make. But some things cannot be changed, either by state law, or by constrictions of money and location."
Her hand lowered and the room became so still they'd have heard a gnat sneeze. "The school year must be one-hundred-eighty days by law."
A few boys groaned. Did they honestly think the school would let them shorten the year?
"Each day must have six hours of instruction."
Spencer Jackson booed. The jerk.
Ms. Rectanus raised an eyebrow. "That is sufficient, Mr. Jackson. And before you get your hopes too high, teachers must be present."
Spencer frowned and Brooke Foxworthy giggled. He winked at her.
How smug. He thought he could charm anyone with a wink and a smile. And the other girls thought he was so cute with his big blue eyes and dark hair.
Ms. Rectanus ticked the remaining rules off on her fingers. "The school's location and the classrooms cannot be changed. Only resources available at the school can be used to make the changes." She looked directly at Spencer as he opened his mouth. "So parasailing cannot be added to the curriculum."
Rhonda suppressed a chuckle and pushed her glasses firmly into place. Ms. Rectanus had Spencer pegged.
"Sixth and eighth grade must continue as they are and cannot be affected by the changes. And the end of grade test at the end of the year must still be taken."
Whispered conversations broke out and Ellen Chandler raised her hand.
Ms. Rectanus nodded at her. "Yes, Ms. Chandler?"
Ellen cleared her throat. "You told us a bunch of stuff we can't do. What can we do?"
Ms. Rectanus smiled. "As long as you keep the rules I outlined in mind, you tell us. We need you to determine policy. What will the class schedule be? Are there any changes to the curriculum? What is the dress code? Any other rules? You decide what questions must be answered."
Rhonda opened her notebook. This exercise might be fun. Changing things around would be exciting. Of course, there might be a problem with getting everyone to agree.
Ms. Rectanus shook the rain stick, the Washington Academy signal to stop talking. "The teachers will be present in the capacity of media and security."
Flipping the switch on the projector, Ms. Rectanus pointed to the screen. "We will report on this exercise through a QuackerMe feed so your parents and any other interested parties can follow along."
Seriously? Mega cool. Rhonda chuckled. If the teachers reported everything, who would be the first to show up on the QuackerMe feed as losing their temper?
Spencer grunted and leaned back. "Like anybody is gonna care. No one uses QuackerMe anyway."
Ellen glared at him. "Just because you aren't old enough to have an account doesn't mean no one uses QuackerMe, Jackson."
Spencer clenched his hands. "If you're going to be quacking I'll egg your posts, Chandler."
Tommy Bishop made quacking noises and Ellen flushed from the neck to the roots of her hair. A post about someone losing their temper might come sooner than Rhonda expected.
The projector warmed up and the QuackerMe feed appeared on the screen. The QuackerMe ID, 7th Grade Revolt, already had a few quacks.
Rebellion is brewing!
Bristol is uninterested in revolution.
Oh goodness. They had posted a link to a picture of the school dog.
Another picture link. "Teachers are informed there has been a revolt!" If they continued to post pictures, it'd get interesting fast.
The rain stick rattled and brought her attention back to Ms. Rectanus.
"We have also scheduled an interview with the local online paper, so we'd like a few students to volunteer to talk about the revolution with them. The reporter should be here any moment."
Excited conversation broke out until the screen changed.
Students see QuackerMe feed.
A tingle went through Rhonda. Their classroom experience broadcast to the world. Amazing. It might even put their dinky town on the map.
Ms. Rectanus leaned the rain stick against the projector table. "Well, you'd better start. You have lots to decide." She sauntered to the back of the room.
Maddie Harper jumped to her feet and strode to the front. "Should we make a circle so we can all see each other?"
Leave it to Maddie to take control. She wasn't bad, not like some others, but always had to be in charge. Rhonda hauled her chair to the forming group.
As the circle assembled, Maddie grabbed the rain stick and clutched it to her chest. "Um, where should we start?" Her eyes darted to the back where the teachers sat.
Pfft. They weren't gonna help.
Unsure, Maddie let her arms droop when no one paid attention or stopped their conversations, which was kinda funny to see.
She laid the stick across the table and clapped her hands.
So much for the rain stick.
Maddie surveyed the rag-tag circle of girls. "Should we discuss as a large group, or do we want to break into smaller groups?"
Selena Woodham pouted. "Who died and put you in charge?"
"No one put me in charge." Maddie put her hand on her hip. "All I've done is ask a couple questions. I don't care if I'm in charge or someone else is."
"But we have to get organized. I mean, this is gonna be in the newspaper and it's already on QuackerMe. I don't want us to fail."
While the girls all formed a circle, Dennis kicked back against the wall and ripped a page from his notebook. He folded the paper accordion style and tore it into strips. After all, what was a revolution without ammunition? He took each strip and rolled it into a tight ball. Perfect. Just like a musket ball.
The other boys hadn't joined the circle either. Let the girls decide what to do. He didn't care one way or the other anyway. He'd vote for an entire day of free time to hike in the mountains, but the teachers would freak. Someone would try to get it shoved in anyway. But Ms. Rectanus had already said six hours of instruction was a must.
Dennis peered at the teachers to make sure they weren't looking his way. Slipping his cell phone under his notebook, he then fished the headphones out of his pocket, and shoved in the left earbud. He swiped the screen and brought up the police scanner app. His buddy Raj, from his last school, had tweaked it so Dennis picked up not only the authorized police and emergency bands, but nonpublic bands and some secure frequencies as well. Raj was such a whiz at hacking apps, he did it for fun.
Raj had played with the app until he'd figured out how to decrypt encrypted communications, but had told Dennis to keep it quiet. No one needed to know Dennis could pick up privileged information. Raj had done it simply because it presented a challenge. All Dennis had to do was tell Raj it couldn't be done and Raj would prove him wrong. Every time.
The most Dennis ever picked up around here was dead air. Nothing ever happened in this tiny town, but he listened in the hope that one day, something would. The most exciting thing had been a kitten stuck in a tree. And once he'd picked up the reports about the ice-cream delivery at the local store. Whoop-de-freakin-do.
He tore out another page and continued building his ammunition stockpile. The tighter the paper wad, the farther it'd sail when he flicked it.
The door opened and a man carried in a laptop case and camera. He shook hands with all the teachers and set his stuff on a table. Must be the reporter, but he didn't look like the news anchors on TV. Dude was kinda on the short side, and wore jeans and tennies without socks along with a gray T-shirt under a black leather jacket.
Dennis narrowed his eyes. Twenty bucks said he'd be taller than the media dude back-to-back. Kids at his previous school used to call him Goliath because of his size. He'd always been bigger and broader than his classmates. At least his size kept them from teasing him. No one picked on him because he'd squash them flat. All he had to do was sit on them.
The reporter watched the circle of girls as they talked about who had natural leadership qualities. Dennis chuckled at all his classmates who thought they qualified as leaders. Maddie wrote names on the board. He noticed her movements were stiff and unnatural after the reporter arrived. Even her voice raised a notch.
"Does anyone have any suggestions?"
Brooke raised her hand. Just like a girl; taking turns, raising hands. If he had a suggestion, he'd have blurted it out.
"I think we should be able to use the microwave to heat lunches."
The room erupted in cheers as Maddie wrote Use microwave on the board. A few boys joined the circle on the fringe.
Maddie turned back to the group, uncapped marker poised in the air. "What next?"
Spencer scooted his chair into the circle and the girls edged to the side to make room for him.
"No one has any other ideas?" Maddie's voice squeaked.
Trent Eckles made rabbit fingers and used the projector to put on a show. Everyone cracked up except Maddie and Ellen.
Maddie's face turned red. "Trent, that's not helping. We have a lot of decisions to make and we have two days to make them."
Spencer raised his hand.
Dennis held his breath and waited for Spencer to propose something stupid. He shook his head. Why did all the girls seem to like Spencer? Most of the time he was a jerk.
Maddie gave Spencer the nod.
He stood. "I wanna talk about the dress code."
Dennis had expected him to suggest a day of hide-n-seek or something like it, not bring up the dress code. This oughta be good.
From behind the circle, James Marshall spoke up. "Yeah. We should be able to wear hats." He patted his short, black curls. "Gotta protect my 'fro, ya know?"
Maddie wrote hats on the board.
Dennis tried to picture James wearing a cap, brim to the side gangsta style, and failed. If Washington Academy had a best-dressed award, James would win for the boys. He always wore slacks, no jeans, and his ever-present white T-shirt remained under a collared shirt or a sweater.
Spencer remained on his feet. "Wearing hats is a good idea, but mine is better." He smirked. "Girls are required to wear spaghetti straps." He sat as the room erupted again.
Dennis launched his first paper wad. Direct hit on Spencer's ear.
Spencer whipped around to search for his assailant.
"Spencer Jackson." Forgetting about the rain stick, Maddie yelled to regain control. "Bless your heart for participating, but we are not putting spaghetti straps down as dress code." Her chest heaved.
Dennis chuckled. Maddie's bless your heart meant eat crap and die.
Spencer crossed his arms. "Put it to a vote. This is a democracy, isn't it?"
Fingers gripping the marker until her knuckles turned white, Maddie's arms went ramrod straight. "Fine. All in favor?"
Spencer's hand shot straight in the air, along with five other boys who sniggered during the count.
Excerpted from "7th Grade Revolution"
Copyright © 2017 Liana Gardner.
Excerpted by permission of Vesuvian Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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