Lakia Mines’s khaki shorts and white polo shirt were already laid out, her hair already styled in a long braid. She had just the right purple-and-turquoise leopard backpack, already stuffed with pencils and paper.
Lakia was ready for seventh grade.
So when her mother woke her up at 6 a.m. Monday in a cousin’s home, Lakia quickly dressed, laced her gray-and-purple Nike high-top shoes and posed for a first-day-of-school photo in the hallway.
Lakia is homeless and hasn’t had a permanent bed to sleep in for years, bouncing between friends’ and relatives’ homes. But each day, the 12-year-old completes her homework and prepares for school in the crammed room she shares with her mother and two sisters.
And the first day of school was no different. By the time the bus arrived at 7 a.m., Lakia was ready — and slightly nervous — to travel across town from the District’s Fort Totten neighborhood to Friendship Tech Prep Academy, a charter school in Congress Heights that greeted students with exuberant songs, chants and dances.
“It feels great to go back,” Lakia said. “I like my homeroom, I like math, science, social studies and English.”