Education

A reader leaves a gift for Christian Bell. His mom’s eyes are wide and wet.

A trumpet that was dropped off at The News & Observer for Christian Bell, the subject of one of the stories in the "Counted Out" series about low-income children who are often left out of gifted classes in North Carolina.
A trumpet that was dropped off at The News & Observer for Christian Bell, the subject of one of the stories in the "Counted Out" series about low-income children who are often left out of gifted classes in North Carolina. jneff@newsobserver.com

For years, Salene Miller has been pushing the cause of her son, Christian Bell, trying to keep him on the honors track in Wake County schools.

After The News & Observer wrote about her struggle to advocate for her son, a reader pitched in to help.

After Deborah Culbertson read about Christian’s interest in math and music, the Fuquay-Varina resident dropped off a shiny trumpet at the N&O for the eighth-grader at East Millbrook Middle School in Raleigh. Culbertson, who comes from a musical family, said the instrument was gathering dust, and she wanted to see it put to good use.

When Miller opened the case and saw the shiny silver-toned trumpet, her eyes went wide and wet.

“Christian is going to love this,” she said. “He is going to put this to use.”

The story of Christian, 13, was part of a three-part series, “Counted Out,” that revealed how thousands of high-scoring, low-income children across North Carolina were being excluded from gifted classes. This paragraph caught the attention of Culbertson and other readers:

“One of Christian’s favorite classes is band. A trumpet player, he looks forward to being in the marching band in high school, and hopes one day to own his own instrument.”

Culbertson was the first of four people to contact The N&O asking how to get a trumpet to Christian.

Ronnie Marshall, math teacher at East Millbrook Middle School in Raleigh, explains why it's important to challenge students such as 13-year-old Christian Bell by placing them in advanced classes.

Joseph Neff: 919-829-4516, @josephcneff

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