The girls are mostly grown now, and according to Facebook they’ve become good friends, but I’ll change their names anyway, to protect the innocent. They were children, after all, by some reckonings the very definition of innocence.
By the beginning of May, just about the entire fourth grade had found a reason to let Shannon know that they didn’t like her. The consensus was remarkable. The less couth children groaned whenever they were partnered with her; the more polite kids signaled their displeasure more discreetly. Even the teachers (with varying degrees of tact and good intentions) let Shannon know that she was not, generally speaking, contributing positively to the broader elementary school community.
Because these were modern times, of course, outright rudeness to Shannon was strictly forbidden, no matter how much she had it coming, and so a lot of good kids got themselves in trouble when they finally snapped at her. I remember one especially delightful little girl who refused to apologize after saying something unexpectedly nasty–she turned to her teacher, trembling and teary, and said, “You don’t understand: she’s been in my homeroom since kindergarten!”