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Divided We Stand

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The bus ride back to school seemed to take twice as long as it had taken to get to the competition. Spectators and club members kept up the chatter on the bus, while Missy counted telephone poles along the route and tried not to think about why she felt sad. After all, this was her first ever real fashion competition, and her team had placed among the top contestants. She guessed that was pretty good for a look they had put together in a weekend, using recycled materials.

The bus ride back to school seemed to take twice as long as it had taken to get to the competition. Spectators and club members kept up the chatter on the bus, while Missy counted telephone poles along the route and tried not to think about why she felt sad. After all, this was her first ever real ­fashion ­competition, and her team had placed among the top contestants. She guessed that was pretty good for a look they had put together in a weekend, using recycled materials.

figure a

Missy scrolled through the pictures on her phone. Twenty-five outfits and only three winners. Missy calculated the odds of getting any awards facing that level of competition. The probability was lower than Missy expected—only about 13%.

She took out her phone and looked at all the pix from the event. One selfie had her and AJ with their heads together making goofy eyes into the camera. Suddenly Missy remembered that in the sweeping excitement of the event, she completely flaked and forgot to capture all the CHAPS looks. She would have to talk to her friends to see if anyone else had thought to take pictures of the CHAPS outfits. Missy hoped at least one person had the presence of mind to capture it all. Luckily, she had taken photos of the remaining competitors.

The notes she wrote in her phone brought her back to each exciting and lovely moment of the show. She felt so many emotions just thinking back to the hours she had just lived through. Camp Winnebago had had a Maker Fair at the conclusion of her summer camp. That had been fun too. The Fair included a kind of show where every camper shared and showed off what they made during the camp. Missy had sported the blue spandex shorts she had sewn along with an oversized tie-dyed tee she had made in shades of blues and purples. Missy looked down at her hands remembering how long it had taken to get all the dye off of them. G-ma and Mr. Maker showered her with compliments and Missy ended up making her dad a matching tie-dye shirt that he wore with his pajama bottoms. Missy didn’t remember having these wild feelings of excitement and anxiety.

As she continued scrolling through the photos, Missy remembered one look that she had expected to be a finalist but that had not won any recognition. The look appeared to be a long denim dress, but when the model walked, Missy could see that the outfit was a wide-legged jumpsuit. The blue denim apron covered the model’s top half like a fitted tube with armholes. The jumpsuit had deep side pockets, which Missy thought had looked so cool. Missy also liked a simple tank top and shorts outfit she saw. Then she came upon another favorite—and remembered Ivy and her architectural approach to fashion. Missy daydreamed while the others chattered away.

Seated next to Missy on the bus, AJ was bobbing up and down in her seat talking excitedly with the other Figures and Icons members. “That was WILD. I was never so excited and nervous and happy all at once in my whole life! Not even when I crossed the 5K finish line first last spring! I feel so . . .,” AJ looked up to the ceiling trying to come up with the right word, “accomplished!” AJ was talking a mile a minute and with her constant bouncing, Missy feared AJ might fly right down the aisle of the bus if the driver had to stop fast. Thankfully, everyone, including AJ, had their seat belts on.

“I know exactly what you mean,” Danny declared. “That was so fun and everyone looked awesome and it was all so, I-don’t-know, professional. Just like we are real designers and real models.”

“We are!” Paula said. “We are real designers. We created new ideas and we sewed fabrics together to make those ideas into actual clothing. Then we dressed up our very own models and sent them down an actual runway. We are real designers and real models.”

On an inhale, Mahdavi all but screamed. “It’s totally just dawned on me. We are!” She side-hugged Danny who was in the seat beside her. “We ARE! Oh, my goodness!” Danny and Mahdavi put their heads together and giggled, chanting, “We are real designers. We are real designers.” Soon, the whole bus caught on and everyone repeated the mantra.

Missy understood exactly what they meant. She and AJ had worked together to create something real that started from a few sketches on Missy’s math notebook. Then, what started out on paper was brought to life. They pieced together random materials until they finally finished. Who else could have imagined putting a man’s tie and a t-shirt together with a lace gown to create such a magical look as Missy and AJ had done?

Missy thought back to the Aha! moment in her bedroom. They had sketches strewn all over the floor and articles of clothing and donated notions and fabrics covering Missy’s desk and bed. Pi pranced around as if inspecting each piece. With his tail in the air he had checked their work over finally settling himself on the sketch Missy and AJ had chosen to bring to life. That moment, when it all came together, thrilled Missy.

Oddly enough, that moment reminded Missy of when she learned how to do long division. The actual second when everything just clicked and she understood. “Hmm,” Missy said, smiling to herself. She loved connecting the dots in her life, finding and creating patterns. And, she had just realized a whole new world of discovery lay ahead for her.

When the bus arrived back at CHAPS, Mrs. Frisch gathered the club members in a circle on the school’s front lawn before dismissing them to go home. “I’m so proud of all of you! You should all feel great about this competition. Not everyone can take home a prize, and the judges were clearly impressed.” Mrs. Frisch looked around the circle. Most of the fashion club members had their arms around each other’s shoulders listening intently to their mentor. “At our next meeting, we’ll take a look at the judges’ comments. We can always learn by keeping our minds and hearts open! Let’s have a cheer before you all rush off to get home.”

The fashion club members piled their hands on top of Mrs. Frisch’s in the ­center of the circle, then Paula led them in a cheer. “CHAPS designs are A-OK! Figures and Icons all the waaaaaaaaaay!”

Everyone shouted, “GOOOO CHAPS!”

As the circle opened up and began to disband, Danny said to the models, “You girls did a great job! You really showed off the designs!” He clapped his hands and jumped up, “And, I can’t believe we won!”

“We didn’t win,” Missy corrected. “We came in second.”

“Huh?” Danny said, confused. “There were a lot of teams that did not make it back up on that stage, Missy. With a second-place trophy, we surely did win! The judges loved the design you and AJ came up with!” Everyone nodded their agreement and Missy smiled back.

figure b

Danny patted Missy’s arm.

“You’re right, Danny. Sorry I said that,” Missy said sheepishly.

“What a day!” he said and turned to hug Mahdavi who had stepped up beside him. “I’ve got some new ideas, Mad. Can’t wait to show you my sketches!” Danny linked arms with Mahdavi as they walked toward the parking lot where their parents waited to pick them up.

“Great job, everyone,” Mrs. Frisch repeated as she packed up and checked her bag.

“I can’t wait to read all the judges’ comments and feedback,” Yooni interjected. “I really want to know what they liked and how we can improve.”

“Me too,” said Morgan. “I’m excited for another competition.” The others repeated similar comments and exchanged hugs. They scanned the school parking lot, looking for their parents and siblings who were coming to pick them up.

Missy and AJ were the last two left waiting, so they plopped down on the grass. Mrs. Frisch had recruited two senior boys coming off the football field to carry the go-bag and the boxes with the garments folded in them back to the studio.

AJ plucked at the grass between them. “Hey Miss?” she asked.

“Yes?” Missy asked in response, looking after the boys and Mrs. Frisch heading back into the building.

AJ waited for Missy to look at her, then she spoke: “That was really cool today. Ya know?”

“I agree,” Missy said, “but I was kind of sad for a second. You know? We didn’t come in first place.” Missy paused and picked out a dandelion from the lawn. “Then I started thinking about the work we did to get there. How ­everything we did came together to make something really beautiful. We both had ­different ideas, but then it all worked. And, that’s the best part. That’s what I loved—working with my best friend. Making something amazing. Together. I can’t wait to do it again! You know?”

“Totally,” AJ said. “I get it. Coming in the top three was a total rush for me.”

“I know,” Missy said, “that was cool, too.” Missy stood up and brushed the grass from her bottom. AJ followed suit. G-ma had just pulled into the ­parking lot.

“Let’s go,” Missy said. They picked up their backpacks along with the bag of shoes and accessories and headed to the car.

FormalPara Math Hack: Percentages

Calculating percentages can be tricky! Here are some things to know about percentages.

The word percent actually means per, or how many, in one hundred. So, a percentage is a number expressed as a fraction or a ratio of 100. It is denoted using the percent sign, %. Percentages are used to compare numbers or to determine the relative size or quantities of two or more things.

For example, fifteen percent (15%) is equal to 15/100, or 3/20, or 0.15.

Your math grade is a percentage: An A+ means the average of your classwork and test scores is between 98% and 100%, while a C+ is between 77% and 79%.

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© 2017 Melissa A. Borza and CA

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Borza, M.A. (2017). Divided We Stand. In: Fashion Figures. Apress, Berkeley, CA.

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