Shine on Daizy Star
Mr Smart, the head teacher, stands in front of us. 'Welcome back to Stella Street Primary,' he booms. 'I hope you have all had a wonderful summer - and are ready to do your best in the year ahead!'
We all stand a little straighter, except for Ethan Miller, who just smirks and swaggers and checks that his hair is still vertical.
Mr Smart strides over to our line, narrowing his eyes. 'Year Six, this is your last year of primary,' he says. 'I don't need to tell you how important that is. I want you to make me proud.'
I look along the row of teachers behind him for a glimpse of Miss Grimwood, but I can't see her. Perhaps she is already in Room 12, writing long-division sums on the whiteboard?
'There has been a change to staffing this year,' Mr Smart continues. 'Miss Grimwood is taking a gap year. She is spending the next twelve months running a beach bar on the Costa del Sol.'
I nearly choke on my bubblegum. A half-blown bubble explodes, leaving strands of pink sticky stuff all over my nose.
'A gap year?' Willow blurts. 'Isn't that what students do?'
'A beach bar?' Beth echoes. 'In the Costa del Sol?'
'Miss Grimwood had hidden depths,' Murphy Malone says, impressed. 'Obviously.'
I try to picture her in a leopard-print bikini, sipping cocktails on the beach, but my imagination fails me. I'm kind of glad about that.
'This is your new teacher,' Mr Smart booms. 'Miss Moon . . .'
Beth, Willow and I are wide-eyed. We haven't had a new teacher at Stella Street Primary since . . . well, since forever.
Miss Moon steps forward, grinning. She is young and pretty, with glossy auburn hair, green eyes and a mouth that seems to be smiling all the time. She is wearing dangly earrings and a green tunic dress over pale jeans. None of our other teachers ever wear jeans.
Miss Grimwood taking a gap year in the Costa del Sol . . . that's a surprise. But a new teacher who wears jeans and dangly earrings? That's more of a miracle, really.
'Pleased to meet you, Year Six,' she says, and her voice is soft and kind and clear. 'I think this year is going to be fun!'
Suddenly, I do, too.