A Note to Dad

by DJ Savarese

yes.dearest sad dad you heard fresh self and freshly responded deserting your fears and just freed sad dear saved me. yes. yes. yes. yes.

If I Were in Charge of the World

by DJ Savarese

Justin Dart, American Hero

from DJ Savarese's eighth grade term paper

How great it is to know that the person most responsible for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act—Justin Dart—was himself disabled, but how he changed the world and who he was is not known by the average person…. His life story is very honorable. Rather than pity himself, Dart hoped to change the lives of millions by hearing the concerns of his fellow disabled humans, politically fighting for equality, and organizing them into a powerful, united group.

His accomplishments are too numerous to freshly detail. …but he made history by plotting to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act. Dart coauthored the 1988 version of the ADA; however, he worried that the bill would encourage segregation rather than inclusion, so at an ADAPT march he publicly likened the disability movement to the civil rights movement of the 60s, declaring, “We are Americans and we will struggle for however long it takes for the same civil rights other Americans have.” Advocating for the rights of all Americans, Dart greatly admired the 1990 version which he termed the “empowerment version” compared to the 1988 “regulation version.” It freed very many people, and no one deserved the pen used by President Bush to sign the ADA into law more than the man who received it: Justin Dart. How many lives he had changed! The law was signed on July 26, 1990, but Dart’s fight to ensure implementation of the law continued until his death in 2002. During that time, he traveled to all fifty states more than four times each, defending the rights of people under the law….

Dart lost his life to congestive heart failure on June 21, 2002, but his fight continued. He even insisted that his funeral be a celebration of the movement and not of him. He heard the hurtful stories of his people and just look how he changed their future! Dart gave his people the respect they deserved and tried to ensure their rights by building a unified community and creating national legislation. Years of hope have been accomplished! Respect has been established. You heard the words of Justin Dart. Our lives deserve to be full and meaningful.

Daring To Be Brave

by DJ Savarese, eighth grade

As late as yesterday, the leaves hung
on the trees-brown, motionless, dead.
Then, they fell all at once,
bringing winter with them. And, afterwards,
everything seems restful and quiet.

All afternoon, I read in bed,
the covers white and fluffy
like a field of snow.
They have the texture of a woolen scarf
worn by a sad hero.

How I hated to get up,
but I needed to make dinner:
a sausage sandwich on a French baguette.
A great hurt says farewell as I open
the refrigerator.

Estimating Harriet Tubman Respectfully

by DJ Savarese

This is A Letter To My Former Teachers at the Special School in Florida Who Believed I Was Profoundly Retarded. It treats me as the respected person they never knew.

by DJ Savarese

Dear Teachers,

I am writing to tell you that I’m getting stronger every day, testing breathing, feeling more responsible for my real grown-up self. Respectful years in regular education classes have taught me reading, writing, speech, and satisfaction. You’re not bringing hard real lessons to girls and boys at your school, so they can become awesome great human beings.

Dad has written a book about my fresh start. I’ve written the last chapter. Please read it because in it I write about how years of easy lessons were wasted. Why weren’t you teaching me to talk, to read, and to write? All you had to do was awesomely encourage me as smart and really kind and fresh start could have begun sooner. Your breathing would make me nervous. People weren’t assessing me as sweet, inspiring me to work at dreaming of trying to responsibly act like everyone deserving respect.

Quite pleased that you are respecting and reading this tested-as-smart, growing up better boy’s resentment. I live in constant fear that respect will be taken away, and I will have to return to easy years of doing nothing. You’re also resurrected in my mind when all I’m doing is wasting time. Fear wakes easy lessons, and I get mad. I want you to know that easy effort estimates kids as retarded when they’re smart; testing kids without encouraging them is wrong. Easy, quiet breathing waits to hear my words, and respect grows. Awesome, caring teachers read my writing and reward me by writing back. Reasonable people should each see what they can do to free people who really can understand. Teach your students to free themselves from resentment, so they desire to feel respected. Re-estimate them as smart. Read, write, and free the hearts and minds of these kids!

In the future, possibly, you will read my own books. I plan to become a writer. I wrote a chapter in my dad’s book already. In it I include my thoughts about testing. In the future I hope to encourage students who don’t speak to free themselves through writing. I also hope to read my speeches out loud. Until I freed myself through writing, people thought I had no mind. Freeing kids who are estimated as retarded is my hope for the future. Years of fresh start have begun!

Your respectful student,
DJ Savarese, sixth-grader, Grinnell Middle School


by DJ Savarese, fifth grade

My names is D.J. Savarese. I’m glad I’m me. I am 11 years old. I’m proud to be in school. I want to be successful. I can do a lot of things. I know I can be focused; sometimes I forget. I hope you understand the way I am. I wish I could fly. I like to go skating. I hear all that you tell me. I want to change scary things. I play with my friends. I smile when I see Miss Innis in the morning. I love my mom and dad. I see what I want to. I believe in the people who want to love me. I am thankful for my family. I will try to smile at everyone. I enjoy being at school. I dream about life. I wonder what I will become of myself. I need to be focused. I wear buttoned-up shirts. I’m glad I’m DJ

Prairie Dogs

by DJ Savarese, fifth grade

Prairie dogs live in burrows,
Race out of their holes.
A lot of people like to catch them
In cages,
Rolling the little ones in paint,
Identifying them in the wild.
Everybody is trying to catch one.

Dogs fight in spring time.
Other females in need of meat
Get their babies from others’ nests.
Some get eaten.