A Winning Strategy

"Hi Amber." I fell into step with Amber after fifth period.

"Hi, Brianna. What's up?"

"I'm worrying about grades. Mine aren't so good. I'm not sure I even want to go to college. How are your college plans coming along?"

Okay, I guess," Amber replied. "Just slow."

"Really?"

"Yeah. Planning ahead isn't working out like I thought it would." Amber stopped walking and looked thoughtful. "I'd decided to take a how-to-study class during spring break, but now I'm wondering if it's worth my time? I'm getting pretty good grades without it."

"Actually you'll probably learn a lot," I said. "Besides, it could strengthen your already-good study skills."

"Mm, I hope it will," Amber said.

Weaving our way between other milling students toward our next classes, Amber stopped again. "Guess what. I've signed up for a college prep class for next semester."

"Wow, you're taking that pretty early, aren't you?" I asked.

"Not really. We still have a couple of years before graduation and I want to prepare for college as early as possible. I've noticed that successful adults don't waste time and I want to succeed." Amber swung her book bag to the other shoulder. "My mom started out as a full-time homemaker, but she organized her time so well that she's now she's a top-notch pediatric nurse."

I nodded.

At noon we took our lunches outside to eat in the sunshine.

"Oh, and I'm thinking about taking an online college class during summer vacation," Amber said, taking up our conversation where we left off.

"Wow! You're really are into this college prep thing, aren't you? What class?"

"Creative writing. It can't be much more difficult than high school English and I'll have some credits to transfer before I even start college. Besides, we'll need a lot of writing skills in college, won't we?"

"Maybe." I made a face. "But English is such a boring class."

Amber frowned at me. "But, Brianna, Creative Writing could be fun. You need to get good at writing now for college later, don't you think?"

I huffed out a huge sigh. "Probably."

"It's not a matter of what you like doing when you become an adult, is it?" Twin furrows showed up between Amber's eyebrows. "Adults do what has to be done. They probably don't like taking out the garbage, washing dirty clothes or loading the dish washer."

"I guess you're right," I said with a wry smile, "as you so often are."

The bell rang.

"See you after last class, Brianna. Let's walk home together."

After our last period I waited for Amber near the water fountain, our usual meeting place. When she arrived we hefted book bags onto our shoulders and headed for home.

"What are you doing this evening?" Amber asked. "Would you like to come over and watch a movie?"

"I'd love to, but I can't," I said. "Tonight I volunteer at an extended nursing facility."

"I didn't know you volunteered."

"Yeah, a month ago I signed up to interact with patients who can't go home yet. Sometimes I just visit. We play a game or I bring them a book or magazine. It gives them something to think about other than how awful they feel."

"That's cool."

"Thanks. It requires only a couple hours a week. Patients really look forward to having someone to talk to―and maybe a game of checkers or a soft drink. Besides," I added, "volunteering is good for me, too."

"Good for you?"

"Giving is good for everyone, my mom tells me." I smiled. "Volunteering has helped me not be as self-centered as I used to be―at least I hope I'm not. I've met people of all ages and races and now I don't mind talking with people I don't know."

"Do you think I could I sign up where you volunteer?"

"Sure you could. It'd be a big plus on your college resume, too," I said. "In fact, why don't you come with me this evening and talk to my supervisor?"

"Great!" Amber said. "What time should I meet you?"