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Q: Our 13-year-old eighth-grader says he doesn’t like the small private school he attends and wants us to put him in public high school next year. His grades are fine, he’s got several close friends, and he’s on the basketball and track teams, but he says that he’s bored and wants to attend a bigger school that offers more in the way of classes and activities. We are concerned because the high school he would attend has a reputation for being a risky environment. We’ve heard horror stories of previously good kids falling in with the wrong crowd, getting into drug use and the like. In our estimation, our son is the sort who might cave to peer pressure. He assures us that we have nothing to worry about. What are your thoughts?

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You might have been one of those kids who barely took notes and somehow did OK in high school, but that’s not going to work in college. Organize your notes meticulously, so you're not scrambling the night before finals.

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Lillian Belle Adams, Kylee Taite Anderson, Adriana Rayanne Ascencio, Kyana Aston, Raymond Joseph Bennett, Alexander Allan Copeland, Bradley Jo…

Brindyn Boyd, Ingrid Coronado, Jared Egbert, David Foster, Silas Hinton, Dylan Irwin, Thomas Koch, Brandyn Lankford, Madison Loudon, Dylan Lyn…

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More than once, I winced at something the seemingly guileless main character, Ted Crutcher, spouts in Downing’s sly, smart thriller. Crutcher is Teacher of the Year at a private high school in the Northeast, one built on entitlement and wealth (Crutcher has little of either), where parents are not helicopters, but diabolical drones. Crutcher feels obligated, even driven, to “fiddle” with his students’ lives, to cajole, crusade, even murder on their unsuspecting behalf. Everything Crutcher does is for his students’ good. He’s a Dickens-loving Dexter, a psychopath with literary tendencies. When the consequences of one of his “fiddles” spirals out of control, Crutcher is caught in a battle of wits with three students out to uncover his demented machinations with a few of their own.

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