From Chicken Soup for the Girlfriend's Soul

The Necklace

Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.

Benjamin Franklin

During the winter of my sophomore year of high school, I counted the days until summer vacation. Regardless of “the count,” I still dressed for school, tested my blood, took my shot, ate, ran out the door and headed to my first-period class. It had been a difficult year for me. Being at a new school is challenging for most kids. It didn’t help having to monitor my diabetes and live with other health-related issues. Regardless, I tried to attend class four periods a day and met with a home schoolteacher twice a week. This gave me a full class load.

The highlight of my day was choir class. There I felt accepted. Half the girls in the choir were typical; the other half was made up of girls with special needs. Though our looks and abilities varied, we all loved lip gloss, new clothes—and, of course, singing.

One day, each of our class periods ran short, so the entire school could gather at the amphitheater for the Holiday Wish Fairy Assembly. For a moment, the only wish I had was that I was back at the Christian high school I had attended my freshman year. How I wished that it hadn’t had to close!

Because I had never been to a Holiday Wish Fairy Assembly before, I had no idea what to expect. I sat back and waited for it to be over. The assembly began with announcements, and then the “wishing” part began. One by one, members of the ASB cabinet called various students up onstage. Each student made a wish. One wished for a car; another, a dog. The dreaming went on and on.

What a dumb assembly! I thought.

Soon, all eyes were on Elizabeth, a girl from my choir class. What’s she doing up there? I wondered. For a girl with special needs, she sure has guts!

Elizabeth stepped in front of the microphone. Without a tremble in her voice, she began to talk. “My wish today is that I could give Jenna Mitchell a present in front of the school.”

Jenna Mitchell? That’s me! My heart began to pound.

Within seconds, a member of the ASB announced, “Would Jenna Mitchell please come up to meet Elizabeth?”

Without thinking, I rose to my feet and began the long walk to the stage. With the entire school watching, I smiled at Elizabeth, then stood by her side.

Elizabeth began the short monologue that she had rehearsed several times. “I want to thank Jenna for being my best friend at school, and I want to give her this necklace.”

Extending her hand toward mine, Elizabeth gave me a small gold box tied with a matching ribbon. As the students watched, I thanked Elizabeth and gave her a hug.

With tears in my eyes, I returned to my seat. Then, I realized I did have friends at my new school. I also had a “best friend” —one who understood how it felt to be different, who knew what it was like to have special needs and who loved to sing as much as I did.

Jenna Mitchell

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