On the last day of school, the fifth grade students at Positive Tomorrows perform last-minute rehearsals for the inaugural "Classy Awards."
Teachers, parents and mentors file into the classroom through a doorway pasted with dangling gold stars, along a red paper carpet. While similar scenes play out in classrooms across the country, this particular group of fifth-graders has a more uncertain future than most.
Positive Tomorrows is a small, privately funded school in the heart of Oklahoma City, designed to meet the needs of homeless children. The future of these students hinges on the one constant in their lives: the school, which addresses both education and basic needs.
The educational challenges associated with homelessness are broad and extend to every corner of a child's life. Without consistent access to adequate food, shelter and safety, students are often too hungry, tired and stressed to keep up in the classroom.
"It is sort of like trying to change your tire on I-35 and I am trying to teach you how to read while that is happening," says Amy Brewer, the school's director of education. "Obviously that does not go very well."