Family financial struggles prevent many students from going to school dances and participating in other festivities that accompany the end of eighth grade -- a trend that is illuminated in Laura Klein’s recent “Teacher’s Diary” for The New York Times. Proms, “senior” trips and graduation ceremonies are expensive occasions in themselves, not to mention the cost of accessories and primping that often go along with them.

“Who wants to go to graduation? It’s just eighth grade -- why is it a big deal?” One of Klein's strongest students answered when asked why she hadn’t paid senior dues....

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