Maria Roberto is 14 years old and goes to Billinghurst Middle School. She is in eighth grade and is nervous and excited about making the transition to high school. On a Friday afternoon, during the week of spring break, Maria is at Park Lane Mall with her mom and sister. As they walk into the girls’ fashion store, Rave, I approach Maria and ask her if she wouldn’t mind answering some questions for me. She eagerly agrees and readily follows me to one of the many park benches that line the mall’s corridor. She shoots me a question before I have a chance to ask her one. “What kind of questions are you going to ask me?” she says.
So this is where you shop?
Yeah, I shop for clothes at Park Lane. I like to wear a lot of newer stuff. I like to go on trips with my sister to shop and stuff. But I kind of get bored because I don’t like to walk a lot.
What kind of music do you like?
I like rap and hip-hop. I don’t like to play country music.
Who are your favorite musicians?
I like Eminem. I think that’s the one who I’m the biggest fan of, and Justin Timberlake.
Yeah, he’s really cute.
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
I have two sisters and one of them is married and lives in California. I don’t have any brothers, but I wish I did.
What’s the most important thing in your life right now?
The most important thing is my family and school, but now, with all this war stuff, it’s kind of scary because sometimes I think, “What if it happens here?” It’s a big issue. It’s horrible to see people die.
How do you feel now that the war seems to be over?
It’s kind of a relief, but at the same time, it’s kind of sad because it left a lot of people dead. But it’s a relief that it’s over. We can all breathe now.
Are you involved in extracurricular activities in school or church?
No. I wish I was, but I can’t be because you usually have to have a car or a ride. For me, it’s hard to be moving from one place to another. But I would really like to be able to.
What’s your favorite subject?
I like math, but sometimes it’s really hard.
Do you pay much attention to the news?
I don’t like to watch the news because they show too much tragic stuff. And with the war going, that’s all they can talk about. So, I’m not into it.