A Murder of Principal by Saralyn Richard
About A Murder of Principal:
When someone sets fire to Lincoln High and kills the new principal, chaos threatens to overtake the urban school. Assistant Principal Sally Pearce, originally hired to help the deceased principal revamp the culture, vows to carry on the mission. In so doing, she locks horns with fellow assistant principal, Wally Welburton, and gets caught up in gang threats, racial tensions, grievances, sexual harassment complaints, and murder.
Head football coach, Roy Donovan, former quarterback at Lincoln in the days when the school was mostly white, lay face-down on the 50-yard line, pounding the grass and shouting. Real tears dotted his cheeks, and his voice sounded like a bleating goat. “I’m crying, sweating, bleeding on this field. I’m giving you guys all I’ve got to give. Why? Because you have potential. You have smarts. You have energy. Most of all, you have the purple and gold winning tradition inside your hearts.”
Tyrone elbowed his buddy DeWayne. He couldn’t believe the coach was doing all this. The first game was in two days, but it was no sweat. In fact, Lincoln was predicted to win it all this season. So why all the drama? Everyone loved Coach D., but this was too much.
Donovan continued, rolling over and propping himself up on his elbows. He ignored the blade of grass stuck in his mustache. “Every last one of you has got what it takes to be a winner, to get a free ride to college, to leave this neighborhood for a better life. I don’t want to see you waste it.”
A murmur went through the line of players like a brisk wind brushing tall reeds. Tyrone extended an arm to the Coach. “C’mon Coach. Get up off that ground. We ain’t gonna waste it. We ain’t gonna let you down either. We’ll be the best team you ever coached in your life.” He looked at his teammates. A chorus of affirmative shouts peppered the air.
Now standing, Donovan brushed off his pants and made eye contact. “That’s what I want to hear, team. But there’s something else you need to know.”
A worry line formed between Tyrone’s eyebrows.
“You all know we have a new principal, Mr. Stoker, right?”
“Yeah, what about him?”
“Well, he wants to see all of you be successful, too.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“In the classroom, as well as on the field. He’s going to be a stickler for making sure you stay eligible. No grades, no play. No exceptions.”
A collective groan rose from the field as this news sank in. It was always difficult to balance athletics and academics. There wasn’t a player on the team that hadn’t had grade problems in the past, Tyrone included.
Donovan went on. “So I need you to push even harder this season. Give it your all, on the field and in the classroom. We can’t afford to have any of you taken off this team for ineligibility.”
Tyrone thought of his calculus class, the formulas on the board that could have been written in Mandarin Chinese, for all he understood them. First day of school, and he already had fifty problems for homework. The security of being sought after by seventeen colleges began to fade with the reality of the challenges ahead. At this rate, he would have to put thoughts of Shayla into the deep freeze till after football season.