High Hopes For Addy is part of the Short Stories collection, focusing on Addy Walker.


Story Summary

HighHopesforAddy 1

Addy works on her kite

It's a Sunday afternoon in the spring, and the Walkers are in their room in the boarding house. Addy is working on a kite for a festival at school. Addy observes that all the parts of a kite—paper, wood, glue, string, cloth, and a spool—aren't much together, but that together they soar. Sam observes that this is like a riddle, and Poppa says he likes that riddle. Addy hopes that her kite flies the highest. Poppa started helping Addy make the frame and Esther comes over to help. Addy picks her up to move her and Esther starts fighting. Momma admonishes Addy to be nice to Esther and Addy complains that Esther has already gotten in the way. Sam takes some paper and goes to draw with Esther. Momma says that she'll be glad when the family moves to an apartment later that month so they'll have more space. The apartment has two rooms, large windows, and a stove so that Momma can cook their meals herself. The rent will be an extra three dollars but with Sam, Poppa, and Momma working they can afford it. They won't have much extra money, however. It's not very far from the current boarding house.

Addy starts shaping the frame for her kite but Poppa points out that it's not square and shifts it for her. Addy starts gluing the paper to her frame and is almost done when Esther trips over the frame, bending it and ripping the paper. Addy yells at Esther for ruining it and Momma scolds her for talking harshly to Esther as she didn't mean to wreck the kite. Addy complains that Esther may not mean it, but that she's damaged several of her things. Momma says that Esther messes with Addy's things because she wants to be like Addy. Momma says Addy needs to be patient with Esther since she's still a baby. Addy says that it will be good to be in the bigger place because she'll have more room to keep Esther away from her things. Sam says that if Addy keeps getting high marks that she'll become a teacher like she wants. Addy says that since the kite festival at school isn't till Wednesday, she should be able to fix her kite.

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Miss Dunn recommends the two to go to I.C.Y.

On Monday at the end of the school day as the students are packing up to leave, Harriet whispers to Addy that her kite will be the best since her father had it made for her using expensive white paper. Addy whispers back that it won't be the best just because it's expensive and that at least her poppa helped her. The two are startled when Miss Dunn says that both of them will need to stay after school. Addy believes it is because they are in trouble for talking out of turn. Miss Dunn says that she could have kept them for that. In fact, she is recommending the two of them to attend the Institute for Colored Youth in the fall due to their good grades. She gives the two of them letters to take to their parents. Addy is excited as going to school there as the school trains teachers.

Addy flies out of the school but is called back by Harriet to walk with her. Harriet brags that she knew she'd get in since she is the smartest girl in the class. She also compliments Addy for being smart enough and that she'll have to work to stay ahead of Addy. The two decide to walk to the I.C.Y. since it's not far away. Harriet says that her family knows the principal, Mr. Bassett and that when he was at their place for dinner, he said the cost of attendance is worth the education as it will improve the lives of colored people. Addy says that Miss Dunn said nothing about cost, and Harriet says that there is a ten dollar annual fee for attendance. She asks Addy to walk home with her but Addy declines. She waits until Harriet leaves before opening the letter; seeing that there is a cost, she is upset as her family will not be able to afford it with the cost of the new apartment. She crumples the letter and heads home.

HighHopesforAddy 3

Addy worries about the quality of her kite

Wednesday at school, it's raining so the students can't have their festival. They will have it tomorrow. Addy looks at the lined up kites; Harriet's is clean and white with a long white tail. Addy's is a bit rumpled, not square, and has scraps from the family's clothing. Addy feels like her kite doesn't stand a chance against Harriet's clean and neat kite. At recess Harriet asks Addy when they are going to tour the I.C.Y.; Addy lies and says Saturday after her parents get off work, and Harriet says that she'll be there and Mrs. Dunn will be there too so they can be introduced to all the teachers. Addy lets Harriet walk off, thinking that Harriet works hard but that things are easy for her in a lot of ways. Addy decides she'll have to destroy the letter that she received since her parents can't afford to send her, and will have to think up an excuse for not being at the I.C.Y, on Monday. She would be ashamed if everyone knew she was too poor to go to the school. She looks through her school bag but her letter is missing.

At dinner Addy hardly eats. During dessert, Poppa gets up and taps his glass to make an announcement, much to Addy's surprise. He says that while the Walkers had planned to move at the end of the month but things have changed. They will be staying there for at least another year—because Addy will be going to the I.C.Y. to become a teacher. Everyone claps and Addy is stunned, looking over at Momma. She doesn't get a chance to ask what is going on as the other boarders hug her. After dinner, Momma pulls out the crumpled letter, and says that Esther handed her to that morning after Addy had gone to school. She asks why Addy hid the letter and Addy says it was because she was ashamed to admit that the family was poor and that they couldn't afford it. Sam says that yes, they are poor but they work hard for what they earn. Poppa says that they will do what it takes to get her to go to the I.C.Y. Esther is on the floor scribbling on Addy's slate, saying that she wants to be like Addy; Addy hugs her and says that she's glad Esther wants to be like her.

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The boarders congratulate Addy

The next day at school, the weather is good for a kite festival. Addy's kite is flying higher than anyone's. Harriet, however, has not gotten her kite more than a few feet off the ground. Addy offers to help her; Harriet at first refuses but then asks for Addy's help. Addy says the tail is too long and Harriet agrees as Addy must know something about kites. Addy cuts off half of Harriet's kite tail and then gets her kite into the air for her. Harriet asks how Addy got her kite so high and Addy says her family sails together. Harriet asks what that means and Addy doesn't answer, only says she'll see Harriet at the I.C.Y that Saturday.

Meet The Author

Connie Porter discusses how when she was growing up her family was poor, but she was not ashamed like Addy was as she was taught that who she was more important that what she had; she says the same thing to children today.

Looking Back: Teaching in 1864

Discusses the Institute for Colored Youth, which is now known as Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. Facts touched on:

  • The background of the school and its founding in 1837 by Quakers
  • Activities in the school, including sponsored speakers such as Fredrick Douglass
  • How children were admitted into the school and the educational opportunities given
  • Facts about Fanny Jackson Coppin, a teacher and later principal at the school
  • Fanny's improvements to the school and expansion of its curriculum

Activity: Make a Mini Kite

A craft is given to make a small kite.

Items Associated with High Hopes for Addy


  • It is mentioned that the kite has scraps of red fabric from dresses Addy and Esther both had by Momma; this would be from Addy's Patriotic Dress.
  • The Looking Back says that Fanny Jackson was the first Black principal ever; this is untrue as Mr. Bassett was black and preceded her. She was, however, one of the first black female principals.


  1. Text, pg 1; Esther is with the family now
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