After ten years, I'm finally standing in line, waiting to walk into the gym and onto the stage. I'm going to get that diploma. I'm going to go to high school. I wipe a tear from my eye. My dream is coming true.
"Is my cap on straight?" I ask Zora Keller, the girl in front of me.
Her eyes widen. "Um, yeah. I like the...glitter."
"Hey, thanks! I did the little jaguars myself with puff paint. Look at this one on my robe. He has a diploma,"
"Wow," Zora replies, totally impressed. She nudges the boy in front of her and points out my fabutastic creation.
I turn around to wave at Nina, Gabbie, and Claire. Oh my lord! Guess who's standing behind the fence? Kristy Thomas! She never misses a chance to see former charges graduate, despite the restraining orders.
I wave at Kristy. She gives me the finger. I guess she'll never forgive the BSC for not allowing Karen to join. I played "Let's All Come In" enough times to know I didn't want to hang out with Karen as an adolescent.
"Graduates, this way please,"
We straighten our robes and begin the march into the gym. Once inside, we take our seats onstage. I search the audience for my friends and family. Lucy's sitting with the Marshalls, Stacey's sitting with the Pikes, and Mary Anne's sitting between Rick Chow and his brother, holding their hands while Lincoln, Cam, and Geary turn somersaults in the aisles. In the back of the gym, I spot my parents slumped in their seats wearing dark sunglasses and hats pulled down over their faces.
I'm really disappointed that Janine couldn't come. She said it was too close to her lunch date. A pretty poor excuse. She can reschedule lunch. I'll never graduate eighth grade again.
"Claudia Lynn Kishi," Mr. Kingbridge finally calls. I shake his hand and take my diploma. Finally! After ten years of hard work, I've passed eighth grade.
We cry a bit after the ceremony. I've spent more than half my life at SMS. High school will be a big, scary place. But, at least the Baby-Sitters Club will be there together! Plus, to help me celebrate, Mr. Kingbridge invited me to his cabin in Vermont. I hope the rest of the BSC can come!
"We did it," Claire smiles at me.
"Together," I tell her, "the Baby-Sitters Club can do anything."
Watch out, SHS! Here comes Claudia Kishi!
And, the Baby-Sitters Club!