Rock Concert

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 from A Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Even without the torn jeans, he made a scruffy-looking ten year old.  His fifth grade classmates had never seen anyone as poorly dressed and unpolished as Marco.  This was his first day of elementary school in a quaint New England town of well-to-do families.  Marco's parents were migrant fruit pickers and his classmates eyed him with suspicion for the first part of the day.  Even though they whispered and made comments about his clothes, he didn't seem to notice.

Then came recess and the kickball game.  Marco led off the first inning with a home run, earning him a bit of respect from his wardrobe critics.  Next up to kick was Richard, the least athletic and most overweight child in the class. 

After his second strike (amid the groans of his classmates), Marco edged up to Richard and quietly said, "Forget them, kid.  You can do it!" Richard kicked a home run and at that precise moment, something began to change in Marco's class.  Over the next few months, Marco was able to teach the class many new things.  Things such as how to tell when fruit was ripe, how to call a wild turkey and, especially, how to treat other people.

By the time Marco's parents finished their work in the area, the class was preparing to celebrate Christmas.  While other students brought the teacher fancy scarves, perfumes and soap, Marco stepped up to the teacher's desk with a special gift.  It was a rock that he delivered into the teacher's hands which was beautiful and bright. "I polished it up special," he said.

Years later, the teacher still had Marco's rock on her desk.  At the beginning of each school year, she would tell her class about the gentle boy who taught her and her class not to judge a book by its cover.  And that it is what is on the inside of others that truly counts.

From This Little Light of Mine, from A Cup of Chicken Soup for the Soul