Allegra

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Allegra thinks being at a performing-arts high school will change her life and make her a better dancer. But high school is still high school, complete with cliques, competition and cruelty. Allegra's refuge comes in the form of a class she doesn't want to take, music theory, taught by a very young, very attractive male teacher. Soon all Allegra can think about is music composition, and Mr. Rochelli. But has she misunderstood his attention, or is he really her soul mate?

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Ajouté le 01 avril 2013
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EAN13 9781459801998
Langue English
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Allegra
SHELLEY HRDLITSCHKA
ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
Text copyright © 2013 Shelley Hrdlitschka
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Hrdlitschka, Shelley, 1956-Allegra [electronic resource] / Shelley Hrdlitschka.
Electronic monograph. Issued also in print format. ISBN 978-1-4598-0198-1 (PDF).--ISBN 978-1-4598-0199-8 (EPUB)
I. Title. PS8565.R44A64 2013 jC813’.54 C2012-907455-1
First published in the United States, 2013 Library of Congress Control Number: 2012952952
Summary: Allegra wants to dance, but when her music-theory teacher insists she undertake a composition project, their collaboration brings unforeseen changes in both their lives.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Design by Teresa Bubela Cover photography by Getty Images anddreamstime.com Author photo by Leslie Thomas
 ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS PO BOX 5626, Stn. B PO BOX 468 Victoria, BC Canada Custer, WA USA V8R 6S4 98240-0468
www.orcabook.com
16 15 14 13· 4 3 2 1
In memory of a gentle soul and voracious reader, Rachel Marie Sharman, 19902009
Contents
One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Eleven Twelve Thirteen Fourteen Fifteen Sixteen Seventeen Eighteen Nineteen Acknowledgments
One
Ms. Jennings taps her fingers on the desk as I glance at my course-selection sheet.
English 12 History 12 Modern Dance Technique (Senior) Visual Arts (Senior) Choreography (Senior) Ballet (Senior) Hip-Hop/Jazz (Senior) Music Theory 11 - 12
“There’s a mistake here.” I push the sheet back across the desk. “There is?” Snatching the paper, she runs her eyes down the list. “Everything looks in order to me.” “I don’t need to take any music classes, remember? I just want dance classes, and whatever academics I still need to graduate. I did math and biology in summer school to get them out of the way. My mom and I talked to you about this last spring, when I registered.” “Ah, yes,” she says, leaning back in her chair and whipping off her glasses. “Allegra. Allegra Whitford. You’re the girl who has completed all the levels in the National Music Academy. Your mother is the harpist in the Deer Lake Symphony Orchestra and your father is…” “Bass player for the group Loose Ends.” “Right. Loose Ends. I think I’ve heard of them.” She sits up straighter. “What you’ll need to do, then, is go see Mr. Rocchelli, the music-theory teacher. Explain your situation to him. Then get his signature on a Drop form.” She hands me the form and a map of the school, then stands up, dismissing me. I stay seated. “Why don’t you just take me out of it now and put me in another dance class?” “Sorry. School rules.” She moves to the door of her office. “Without his permission to drop the class, your records will show that you simply didn’t complete it.” “That’s stupid.” I get to my feet. Her eyebrows arch, and then she glances at the wall clock. “You’ll find him in portable number four, at the back of the building. You’ve got time to get out there now and see him before the start of classes.” “And once he’s signed off on it?” “Come back here at lunchtime. We’ll see what dance classes are offered in that block.” I brush past her in the doorway and am just about through the main office when I hear her say, “Ifthere are any.” “What?” I turn back, but another student is already following her into the small room. Disappointment nudges aside the anxiety I’m feeling about being here. I’d had such high hopes for Deer Lake School for the Fine and Performing Arts. Because it’s a high school for the arts, I’d assumed the counselors would be more creative, more energetic and just generally nicer than the ones from Maple Creek High, my previous school. Ms. Jennings seems as burned-out as any other teacher. Not a good sign.
I find my way to portable four, which is behind the school. The door’s ajar, so I peek into the room. There’s a guy on the far side, opening and shutting cupboards, probably checking inventory. His back is to the door. I know it’s the right room—the chairs and music stands are set out, ready for rehearsal—but this can’t be Mr. Rocchelli. From the back, anyway, he looks like a student, in faded jeans and a T-shirt. I clear my throat. “Excuse me…” He jumps, startled, and whirls around. His sudden reaction surprises me, and I step back, but not before I notice that he looks a little older from the front, probably in his early to mid-twenties. “Sorry,” I say. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m looking for Mr. Rocchelli.” He clutches at his chest. “I think my heart stopped for a moment there.” He laughs. “Can you imagine what a dramatic start to the term that would be? I can see the headlines:New teacher dies of heart attack before first class.” He chuckles again, and that’s when I notice the dimples in his cheeks. “I’m Mr. Rocchelli. And you are?” So it is him. I step farther into the classroom. “I’m Allegra Whitford. I’m here to—” “Allegra!” He looks pleased. “What a great name. In music, the termallegromeans ‘lively, with a happy air.’ Does that describe you?” His smile lights up his face. “I think that’s what my parents were hoping when they named me.” “And?” “I let them down.” He studies me, his smile fading. “Oh. Well, then, what can I do for you, Allegra?” I approach him, holding out the Drop form. “I just need you to sign this form giving me permission to drop your music-theory class.” His eyebrows spring up. “Why would you want to drop my class? Have I already offended you?” The smile is back, along with the dimples. “No, it’s just that I don’t need it. I’ve been studying music for years. I want to take extra dance classes.” “Ah, you’re a dancer.” He takes the form, scans it and then passes it back to me. “But you haven’t signed it.” “I don’t intend to.” “But if you don’t, it will appear on my records that I didn’t complete your class.” “Then I guess you’ll have to complete it.” I can’t decide if he’s joking around again. “I want to take a dance class in this block.” “I see that you already have four dance classes on your schedule,” he says. “This is a fine andperforming arts school, Allegra, not a dance school. You need to take my music-theory class to bring balance to your schedule. You know that balance is important in dance, right? It’s important in life too. And at school.” I sigh. “I’ve already completed all the levels in the National Music Academy. I talked to Ms. Jennings and she’s okay with it too. Please just sign the form.” I’m aware that I haven’t concealed my irritation very well, but he’s being so annoying. “That’s great that you’ve mastered the National Music Academy curriculum,” he says way too enthusiastically. “And if that’s the case, I’ll design your assignments to challenge you. There’s always something new to learn. I can explain that to Ms. Jennings.” “But I’m not interested in any more music theory,” I tell him. “I want to dance!” He turns away, but not before I notice the clench of his jaw. He continues opening and closing cupboard doors. “I expect to see you here in block seven, Allegra,” he says over his shoulder. “And I promise you this.” He turns to look at me again. “My class will challenge you
and quite possibly help you with your dance too.” A bell rings, announcing the start of classes. I hear students entering the room, but my eyes remain locked with Mr. Rocchelli’s, challenging him. The classroom fills with that back-to-school buzz. I break eye contact and turn away, fighting the urge to slam the door as I return to the main building. This school isn’t going to be any better than the last one.
Two
“New here?” I turn and look at the girl sitting at the next desk. Her brown skin is flawless, like her eye makeuB. Her hair has been braided into Berfect cornrows, and I wonder if she has extensions. “Uh-huh.” I oBen my notebook to the first Bage and lay my Ben along the sBine. “What’s your focus?” “Dance.” In my BeriBheral vision I see that her dark eyes are sizing me uB, all of me, and I don’t like it. “How d’you like Ms. Dekker?” Ms. Dekker is the dance teacher. I met her in first block, but we only talked about her exBectations. We start dancing tomorrow. I shrug and allow my own gaze to check my classmate out, noting the slight bulge at the waistband of her jeans. Clearly she’s not a dancer. “She seems okay.” “You just wait.” She Bulls a Ben out of her backBack and Blaces it beside a decorated binder. “Wait for what?” A small smile tugs at her mouth. “You’ll see.” She turns to face the front of the room, just as the teacher arrives. I stare at her another moment before turning to face forward myself. I make a mental note to sit somewhere else when English class comes around again.
I have to shoulder my way through the crowded hallway to get back to the office. Lockers bang oBen and kids reach inside them to grab their lunches. The energy is tangible, and it ricochets off the walls as classmates who haven’t seen each other all summer greet one another. Inside the office it’s much quieter, but a long line of students snakes around the room. It looks as if everyone is waiting to sBeak to Ms. Jennings, who is standing behind the main counter. I take my Blace at the end of the line and think about what I’ll say to her. I have to be convincing when I exBlain that Mr. Rocchelli is dead wrong, that staying in his class is a total waste of my time and that she needs to make an exceBtion for me. It’s imBerative that she take me out of his class, even without his stuBid signature. I’ll tell her that without another dance class I won’t be BroBerly BreBared for my chosen career. I’ll ask her to think creatively, and I’ll Boint out that even if there isn’t a dance class offered in that block, my whole schedule can be altered once I’m out of music theory. We don’t seem to be moving. I crane my neck to see what’s going on at the front of the line. Ms. Jennings is sBeaking to a tall skinny guy with a tidy Bonytail and small frameless glasses. Her arms are folded across her chest, and she’s shaking her head. “Sorry, SBencer, there’s nothing I can do for you,” she says. SBencer jabs his finger at the BaBer on the counter, but she’s not willing to budge on whatever the Broblem is. Finally he smacks his hand on the counter. She simBly stands taller, folds her arms even tighter and then Beers around him to the next student. He kicks the counter and stomBs out of the office. Oh great, I think. Ms. Jennings is not in a cooBerative mood, and I don’t think she warmed to me after our chat this morning. Things are not looking good. From my backBack I Bull out the form Mr. Rocchelli has refused to sign. I stare at the line
where his signature is suBBosed to be. The signature Ms. Jennings says I need to get out of his class. I think back on my visit to his classroom. Had I heard him correctly? Is he new to this school too? Will Ms. Jennings even know what his signature looks like? Most BeoBle just scrawl something illegible when they have to sign something. I Bull out a Ben and a textbook to write on. When the attention of the students on either side of me is elsewhere, I quickly scrawl a signature. I make a big fatRat the start, and the rest is just a long squiggle. There. Now I won’t have to convince her of anything. She’ll just have to But me in another dance class. The line inches forward. My stomach growls. I watch Ms. Jennings’s face as one student after another slides a form across the counter to her. She glances at each one, sometimes making changes in the comButer and sometimes just Bushing the forms back at the students. When there are only two students to go before I reach her, a tall figure Basses behind me, heading toward the end of the counter where he can go through to the staff-only side. It’s Mr. Rocchelli. My stomach clenches. I droB my head and let my hair fall around my face, but in my BeriBheral vision I see him walk to the rear of the office to check a bulletin board. He stands there studying the messages, his back to us. The student at the counter moves away, and there’s only one more Berson before it’s my turn. I keeB my eyes glued to Mr. Rocchelli’s back, willing him to stay But until I’m safely out of there. I listen to the conversation going on in front of me. The girl’s babbling away about her summer holiday. Ms. Jennings is smiling. Her face has softened. ad timing—she likes this girl, and their conversation doesn’t seem like it’s going to end anytime soon. I clear my throat.Get on with it, I want to say.There are people waiting. The girl glances back at me and then leans forward to sBeak more softly to the school counselor. In that moment I see Mr. Rocchelli swing around and move toward a bank of narrow drawers. He Bulls one oBen and reaches inside for a stack of BaBers. Then he Bushes the drawer shut and leans back, rifling through the Bages in his hand. Ms. Jennings is now consulting the comButer screen beside her. “Well,” she tells the girl, “if we move you into the chamber choir, that would free uB block seven and then you could take music theory.” The girl’s face lights uB. “Perfect!” Ms. Jennings tyBes something into the comButer. “Voilà!” She smiles at the girl. “It’s done.” The girl turns to leave, and my heart leaBs. I’m going to get away with it. I steB uB to the counter, but then the girl is back, nudging me aside. “Sorry,” she says to me, then turns to Ms. Jennings. “Could you Blease Brint me out a new course-selection sheet?” “Of course,” Ms. Jennings says. I clench my jaw again as Ms. Jennings reoBens the girl’s file and hits the Print button. The Brinter farther down the counter whirs to life. Ms. Jennings walks toward it, and that’s when she notices Mr. Rocchelli standing at the back of the office. Suddenly her shoulders straighten, her face settles into a Bleasant exBression, and she Bushes her glasses uB into her hair, using them as a hair band. “Mr. Rocchelli,” she says, raising her voice so he can hear her across the room. “I’ve just enrolled another student in your music-theory class.” He looks uB from his BaBers. “You have? Great!” He walks across the room toward her. “I’m so relieved to hear that,” he continues. “The enrollment for that class is so low, I was afraid it might get cancelled. Students seem to be But off by the wordtheoryfor some reason. My other classes are all full.” “Maybe that’s because it sounds like work,” she says with a