Life's Choices CM e rI s CI vi t

POV SAMPHOS, age 17 -is someone who always plans before she does something. Her mother makes and sells baked goods for a living and her father is an honest policeman. She has a very good memory and is good at school, but always needs Rith’s help in mathematics.

Samphos, Bopha, and Rith as children

Age 3

SUON BOPHA, age 17 - is an enthusiastic and happy person. Her father is a smart businessman and her mother is a housewife. She is not very excited by schoolwork. But she also wants to be promoted to Grade 12.

Age 5

TEP RITH, age 17 - His father is the Deputy Governor of Kompong Spean province and his mother is a medical physician. Since his father is always busy with his work, Rith spends most of his time with his mother. Rith does not have much confidence in himself. The subjects he’s good at are mathematics, physics, and chemistry.

Age 5

Age 6

Life's Choices CM e rI s CI vi t
Sokha Teacher Visal Kosal Dany Borey School Director

Legal Notice
All contents copyright © Our Books. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents featured in this publication are imaginary. Any resemblance to real events, persons (living or dead), locales or institutions is coincidental.

THE TEACHER ARRIVES.

Chapter 1: Class Leader
THE FIRST DAY OF THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR AT KOMPONG SPEAN SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL, IN GRADE 11 “E”:

Everyone may sit down now!

The new Class Leader will be chosen the day after tomorrow. Is anyone interested to stand for the election? Raise your hands, please. Soon we will select our Class Leader! Who are the candidates, Rith?

No idea.

BOPHA AND SAMPHOS DISCUSS THE NEW TERM:

Who do you think the Class Leader will be this year?

It may be the former leader again.

Oh, no! Our last leader, Kosal, lost our class funds to buy the class tree. And he said the money was stolen. Who knows? He might have spent all that money gambling on football, and collected our money again.

Oh! The former Class Leader wants to continue, eh?

Look! Rith is completely How lost in thought. Want beautiful Dany to surprise him? looks! Yeah!

Rith, the teacher asked you to raise your hand!

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3

Yes, sir!

They tricked me!

Kosal, Rith and Dany, please present yourselves.

Uh oh! We’ve found a competitor for the former Class Leader.

TO THE TEACHER’S DISMAY, NONE OF THE STUDENTS RAISES THEIR HAND.

So, which one of the three do you think deserves the position?

Now, anyone else?

Now there are two boys. Aren’t there any brave girls who want to be candidates for Leader?

Sir!

Anybody else? If not, it means that -

Tomorrow, you three candidates should present your plans to the class. The election will come the day after that.

Yes, sir!

Yes, sir!

Yes, sir!

Very good, Dany!

we have these three candidates for this year.

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5

Why did you ask me to raise my hand? I never wanted to be Class Leader.

Hey, relax, pal! We only wanted to help you. Help me? Why?

THE SECOND DAY, BEFORE CLASS:

Hey guys, have some chocolate, my father just bought it from Singapore.

Thanks, Kosal!

We know that you like Dany. Right?

ALL STUDENTS TOOK SOME CHOCOLATE EXCEPT FOR SAMPHOS, BOPHA AND RITH.

This is a great way to catch Dany’s interest. But if you are elected as Class Leader, Dany might notice you. You can never know!

Oh, I am ‘out of her league’. I never wanted to be Class Leader! It’s such a boring job!

A LITTLE LATER...

Please, sit down!

OK, guys! Enough. Let’s go home. And you’d better think of what to say for your speech tomorrow.

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7

Which one of you three want to deliver your speech first?

KOSAL IS FIRST TO RESPOND.
Sir!

If you all vote for me, I promise that I will organize many fun activities for all of us.

RITH’S TURN.

Um..... um.... well, if you vote for me, I promise that I will lead our class to becoming a model class.

Thank you!

And if I win this election, I will throw you all a party at my house, and we’ll have lots of fun there. I also have video For the girls, I will buy games a flower for each on at home. Valentine’s Day and Women’s Rights’ Day.

P AP CL CLA LAP C

AP CL

AP CL AP CL

That’s an impressive speech, Mr. Class Leader Candidate! We’re so proud to have a friend like you.

BOPHA WHISPERS TO SAMPHOS:
Look! He’s already bribing every one of us to vote for him. He thinks that we’d be fools like last year, huh? He’s full of false promises. I will never vote for him again.

If you vote for me, I promise that I will manage all the activities of our class well.

I will write down every expense we make in a notebook so that you all can have an idea of what I am doing with the money.

Finally, I promise for all important class decisions, I’ll ask you first.

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9

THE SCHOOL BELL SIGNALS THE END OF THE DAY.

AS STUDENTS LEAVE THE CAMPUS, DANY SEES RITH.
You did very well in your speech in class.

DON

DON G!

G!

DON

G!

Well... um, you spoke better than me, Dany.

Dany’s won 28 votes, Rith 27 votes, and Kosal 5 votes.

I’d therefore like to declare Dany as your Class Leader this year!

Dany...Dany talked to me just now!

See! Now you can catch her attention.

AP AP AP CL CL CL

First of all, I would like to say thank you to all of our classmates for believing in me and voting for me. I will do everything I have promised earlier.

THE ELECTION DAY ARRIVES.

Everyone, let’s start the voting now.

Let’s have Rith as our Assistant Leader since he’s won 27 votes for himself. Rith and I will cooperate with each other and do our best to make this a model class this year.

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11

RITH, BOPHA, AND SAMPHOS WALK HOME AFTER SCHOOL.

Hey, it’s time you thank us, Assistant Leader! So, you now have time to get close to the Class Leader.

You got 27 votes! With just another vote, you would have been the winner.

I would have if I hadn’t voted for Dany.

12

End Chapter One

Chapter 2: Test papers
IN THE SCHOOL DIRECTOR’S OFFICE:
Congratulations to you all for being selected as Class Leaders.

Who knows? You might turn out to be a leader in the government or of a company one day in the future!

Sir, We haven’t thought that far yet.

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Well, I’ve asked you all here to my office to let you know we will have the school’s tree planting ceremony next month. Please go back to your class and start collecting money for your class tree.

Yes, sir!

Yes, sir!

RITH HURRIES TO THE FRONT OF THE CLASS --

AND POUNDS ON THE BLACKBOARD.

g Ban

!

g Ban

!

! ! ang Bang B

DANY WALKS BACK TO THE CLASSROOM.

May I have your attention, please, everyone?

I need to explain some things.

OK! I have something to tell you:

We have to collect money to buy our class tree.

What? Collecting money again? We’ve paid many times already, haven’t we?

Everyone?

Oh yeah? If I’m not mistaken, you didn’t pay last time.

DANY COLLECTS MONEY FROM SAMPHOS...
Dany, why don’t you ask your secretary to help?

Oh, that’s not necessary. I can do it myself.

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15

SAMPHOS SIGNS THE RECORD BOOK OF GRADE 11E.

Wow! You are keeping good I think that records. it’s better if Fantastic! you have some small record.

You need to be faster, buddy!

Yeah! Girls like boys who are brave, not...

Not what? Not the stupid ones? Is that what you mean?

That’s not what we mean.

This is a great idea! No Class Leader did this before. That’s why it was confusing.

This evening I will go buy the class tree. Can someone help me carry it?

Look, she is gorgeous, smart and there are lots of guys after her. I have many competitors.

We don’t what you intend to do regarding Dany, What should but if you like her I do? you should take our advice.

I want to be fair, and it helps me remember. It’s a big class! Thank you. Thank you. If I save money buying the tree, I will keep it for our class account.

Me!

P P P LA CLA CLA C

Girls like successful guys. So you study hard and try to get the top grade in all our subjects.

That’s a good idea. I’ll bring my notes and ...

Rith, wake up! We have an exam coming!

It’s true. Can you two come to my house to review our lessons together this evening?

and some cookies made by your mother too!

Right, exam. I almost forgot, need to catch up.

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17

AT THE SCHOOL CANTEEN:

Next week, there’s another exam. So boring! Don’t worry, we can handle it as usual.

IN THE AFTERNOON, AT BOPHA’S HOUSE...
Oh, my brain will explode! Let’s call it a day, OK?

KABOOM! That will save you from the exam.

More importantly, we are out of cookies. Tomorrow, can you bring extra?

I’ve heard that teacher wants to increase the price.

So the exam price is up too?

The gasoline price is up.

If we want to pass, just slip some money in the exam paper. Low amount, low score. More money, high score.

Bopha, your first thought is always food.

Now what?

Some exercise will clear our heads. Why do you look worried? Last month you sold your moto and told your mother it was stolen. And doing exercise helps some fat people become slim.

Sure.

We have no choice.

It’s tragic Manchester United lost. Mother told me if I lost my moto a third time, it’s my problem not hers.

Does he mean I’m fat? I’m not gaining weight, am I?

You are her only child. You’ll find a way. Hey, let’s go.

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19

Do you remember what Kosal and his friends said this morning?

Sure, they were talking about the exam next week.

THE EXAM DAY ARRIVES. AS THE TEACHER GIVES PAPERS TO THE STUDENTS, THE SCHOOL DIRECTOR OBSERVES THE EXAMINATION.

What was that?

Kosal and his friends want to slip money in their exam papers. Oh! That’s why they always got good scores. I thought they were smart!

They don’t come to school regularly and sometimes sleep in class, but our teacher didn’t say anything.

We’ve got to do something.

Right! Let’s ask the price for a high score!

Catch me to find out! Not that! We have to do something to stop those guys!

But what?

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21

DAYS LATER AT THE SCHOOL CANTEEN:
I don’t understand why the School Director came to collect the exam paper this time! I think we have a ‘traitor’ in our class.

No way! Everyone’s calling him “PAO JING THEAN”.*

If I put money in the exam paper, my score is zero! Did you put any money in your exam paper? We will fail, for sure. We didn’t write anything at all on the exam paper.
* The honest, incorruptable judge from TV drama

Ha! Ha!

If I review my lessons, maybe I can write something on the next exam. Hey, look! I think Dany needs a little help. That tree looks heavy. So where are your competitors, Rith? Go help her! Here, Let me help, Dany.

Thank you, Rith.

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End Chapter Two

Chapter 3: Monthly Marks
CLASS 11E ASSEMBLES AT KOMPONG SPEAN HIGH SCHOOL
Uh oh! Rith's competition is one step ahead.

Thanks for the vote of confidence. Easy now!

Hi, class is cancelled!

Hey, great! We are free For two hours!

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Kosal suggests some karaoke, will you go? Just a break, for those who aren’t bookworms.

Dany, will you go?

Sorry, but the math exam is coming. I need to go to the library. There is a group going?

You want to come with us next time?

I’ll think about it.

I don’t understand this at all.

Yes, see, they’re getting ready to go! Singing! I haven’t done it for ages. Samphos, Rith?

Just a second, I’ll go and get a formula book.

I’ll go with Dany. Me too.

Hey, Rith was here.

He can find another seat.

ONE HOUR LATER, THEY RETURN TO SCHOOL.
Hey, Bopha, you have a great voice. You are not bad yourself.

But Rith’s things are there.

Here they are.

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25

Dany... um, here is the formula book. Thank you, Rith!

NEXT DAY...
Hurry up, give me the money so I can buy the math exam paper. Do we have the answers?

Our ‘friend’ said that if we want the answers, we will have to pay twice the usual cost. Twice?

No.

Please sit right here.

OK.

Singing was less fun without you, Dany. Let’s be quiet, this is the library.

If we don’t have the answers, how can we do the exam? We used to slip it in the exam paper and it was cheaper that way.

We don’t have enough money. Now we cannot PUT money in the paper, we are afraid of Director “Pao Ching Tean”.

You’ve gone to karaoke many times, you seemed to like it enough before...

I’m talking with Dany, not you. Kosal, you understand all the exercises, don’t you? The Math exam is coming.

Yes, ‘Madame President’. Simply pay for an average grade and you get it. So we have to buy the exam, and then do the exercises. What a headache! What? How? We should just buy the exam paper and then give it to Rith.

Dany, you don’t need to ask him.

He doesn’t need to study, he has his own ‘special’ method.

Well, um...

I know where we can get help, at a special discount.

He’s the top student in math every month.

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27

I’ll tell him that Dany, my cousin, asked for help. He’ll do it.

THE DAY OF THE MATH EXAM

Really? When was this?

Umm, two or three days ago.

If you told us, perhaps I would have been able to do exercise two and five!

Hmm, brilliant!

Why didn’t you tell us?

Why do I have to tell you everything?

That's because you wasted time singing karaoke with Kosal. It's impossible. I think the math teacher would never do that.

Oh, that was hard!

It’s curious, this exam looked familiar.

They took advantage of me. But how did they get the exam paper?

You don’t need to be curious. I’m sure they bought it from the teacher. Familiar to what, ‘Professor’? Compare that to his pay. How could he live on that small salary?

He needs to feed his family, and pay for water, electricity, and gasoline. Do you want to mention this to the School Director?

The exercises looked exactly like this morning’s exam.

Earlier Sokha asked me for some help.

It’s not fair. I study hard for my grades! We should do something.

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29

ONE WEEK LATER...
You three, come here! Yes, teacher!

Today’s youth are hard to advise! They don’t want to study, but want to be film stars. This month, what is your grade?

Um, uh we don’t know.

Come with me to my office!

Well then, do you have any grades yet? Yes, teacher! Math, I got grade number... grade number... How high did you score?

What? First!

I was first in my class.

Do you think you are movie stars? Why do you keep your hair so long?

Long hair, nice clothes. You don’t look very studious. I’m sorry, Teacher! We planned to cut our hair this evening!

So, 2 what is (a-b) , then? Um, um...

You can’t even solve an easy exercise! And you are ‘number one’?

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31

A FEW MINUTES LATER..

Why is the Director here? He only comes for exams, usually.

I don’t know - but I saw Kosal, Sokha, Visal just return from his office.

Maybe they have created some trouble. Class! Today we will do the math exam again. Math exam again? I’m not ready!

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End Chapter Three

Chapter 4: Attendance Book
KOMPONG SPEAN HIGH SCHOOL’S FOOTBALL TEAM COMPETES WITH KOMPONG SRALANG.

The other team is doing well.

Go Rith! The game is almost over!

Bopha, I noticed you’ve had more absences lately. wHAT’S BEEN KEEPING YOU?

Er...... I had some housework to do.

33

Really? I thought you had gone to Karao.. um..

Dany, could you help me to delete some absence marks? I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to do that. Sorry.

Rith, great job!

Thanks, but it’s not just me, it’s our whole team. How about you, Sopheap? How many absences do you have? Never. It can’t be, you skipped class for Karaoke like me! Know why you won? You had the three prettiest girls in the class cheering for you.

Don’t be stupid. Just meet the teacher, give him some money, and he’ll delete all absences for you. How can he feed his family with such a low salary?

Really? Where are the others besides Dany? Um, RITH, could you help me with math for the semester 2 exam? Dany, want to study with us? We learn at my house almost every day from 2 o'clock.

RITH SCORES A GOAL -

JUST AS THE MATCH ENDS.

Great, Rith! Of course. Great. I’ll come.

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35

What does Dany see in Rith anyway?

KOSAL THINKS FOR A MOMENT...

How can I get those grades?

With Borey’s problem, will you mark him absent? I note everyone who is absent, whatever reason they have.

AFTER CLASS.
Where is Rith?

He’s one of the best students. If you want to interest Dany, you need to be at the top of the class.

Don’t ask me, I’m not a good student.

Oh, he’s off buying books with Dany.

TUESDAY, MAY 20 AT 10 AM...
I have brought my moto today. Want to buy books after class?

CLASSMATE BOREY APPROACHES RITH:
Rith, you have a motorbike? May I use it now? My family just called to say my mother is sick.

SUDDENLY…
Hey pretty girls! where are you going? Want to go for a walk with me?

Sounds good.

Oh, is it serious?

I go where I wish! It’s none of your business.

I don’t know yet.

Here’s the key and parking ticket. My motorbike's license plate number is 9999.

KOSAL AND HIS FRIENDS SEE BOREY LEAVING SCHOOL…
Hey Borey, skipping Biology?

Hah! Small body but big mouth. How dare you, little girl?

Don’t talk with them. Let’s go, hurry up.

Wait it, what’s the rush?

Thanks! I'll return it to you by 11 o'clock.

I need a break, I’m going for a drive.

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Hey! What are you doing? Leave my friends alone!

you could buy us breakfast sometime.

It’s best if you travel with a larger group, it’s safer that way.

Who are you? Why should I listen to you?

Ha! I’ll treat you but you’ll have to buy seconds yourself. Kosal, you should put a warm egg on your bruise, you’ll heal faster.

Yes sir!

Hey, stop! He knows Borey, the ‘Big Brother’ of Kompong Spean High School. Let’s go.

A FEW DAYS LATER…
Where is Rith?

You sound like a nurse! Kosal, are you alright? Thanks for your help, Kosal and Visal. At the break time, I need to meet the Teacher, as well.

They called for him at the school office, I don’t know why. That's right. Because I don't want my parents to know that I missed the class.

I'm ok.

If you don’t want to end up like this, why do you skip class?

No big deal. Maybe...

You want to delete some absences, don’t you?

I know it's my fault, ‘second mother’.

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THE SCHOOL DIRECTOR’S OFFICE:

Did you ride your motorbike with license plate No. 9999 at 10:00 on Tuesday?

THE POLICEMAN SCRATCHES OFF THE WHITE INK

Sang Borey! Why is the name Sang Borey changed?

Er... at 10... Tuesday... Er... I attended Biology. Do you remember that you lent Borey your motorbike in the morning on that day? Did you remove the absence of Sang Borey?

Here you are!

Dany, can I see the students’ attendance book? Rith was not marked absent on Tuesday, May 20. He did attend biology session.

Let’s look for Rith’s attendance on Tuesday. Look! There is a white mark of correction pen here.

Yes, he said he would visit his sick mother.

I don’t know either, maybe he did it himself.

It'd be Sang Borey who rode on a motorbike with license plate Number 9999 and snatched the phone along Street 123 at 10 on Tuesday. We need to go find Sang Borey right now.

I will ask my Deputy Director to take you to Sang Borey.

Thank you, School Director.

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Rith, Dany, you can go.

You received the money from the student and erased the absence, didn’t you?

Samphos, do you think maybe I could join your study group? OK, come to my house at 2pm.

Uh, uh...

He’s helped us out, he’s OK.

Huh! Why do you allow him to learn with us at your house?

Only Class Leaders and Teachers can keep the attendance book.

Thanks SAMPHOS.

I’m sorry, I will not do this again.

He wants to spend time with Dany. More competition for Rith. So let them compete by studying hard. ‘A bad guy can be improved by a good woman’. I’m all for it.

If you do this again, you will lose your job.

You think so?

BACK IN CLASS:
What’s the matter?

AT SAMPHOS’ HOUSE:
That’s because you didn’t study the basics before. I can help you catch up.

I don’t understand at all.

The teacher stopped selling absences.

BOPHA OVERHEARS THE CONVERSATION BETWEEN THE SCHOOL DIRECTOR AND THE TEACHER, AND KNOWS SHE IS TOO LATE.

Oh! Thanks, little teacher.

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FROM THAT TIME ONWARD, SAMPHOS HELPS KOSAL WITH HIS STUDIES.

AT THE PARTY:
Thanks for taking your time to teach me, Rith. I've got much higher grades for this second semester.

Bopha, I don't think I will be promoted to grade 12! Keep working hard and you’ll get there.

AT THE SCHOOL CANTEEN…

AT THE SCHOOL COURTYARD…

Don't mention it. You did it yourself.

Thank you, tiny teacher. I've been promoted to grade 12.

True. But I'm excited anyway because I earned it.

But your score shows that you only just passed the exam.

Would you like to dance?

FINALLY, THE SECOND SEMESTER EXAM WAS OVER.
I don’t know how to dance well. No worry, I can teach you this time.

This Saturday we're organizing a party to mark the end of school year in Grade 11. Please wear something nice.

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THE End

45

SUMMER SCHOOL - PART ONE
A few days after the school term finished, Bopha and Rith visited Samphos’ small home. They found Samphos busy in the kitchen, baking cookies and cakes with her mother, who sells them every day in the market. “Oh, so you came for some cookies,” Samphos said with a smile. “Did you think I come to visit you?” Bopha answered. “I knew it,” Samphos said playfully. “Ok, if you want to eat, you need to help us bake them!” Bopha and Rith helped Samphos and her mother. They began to get hungry, looking at all the food. “OK, watch those cookies, I’m going to get more flour,” said Samphos’ mother. “Hey Rith, when will you register your name for summer classes?” said Bopha. “I registered already and also for Dany,” Rith said. “Ah ha, you will sit next to her,” smiled Samphos. “How could you register before us? We always sit together!” said Bopha. “Samphos, we should go to register our name together,” said Bopha. “So we can sit next to each other.” Bopha threw some rice four at Rith. “Wait for us next time!” Rith threw some back, and Samphos couldn’t resist joining in the fun.

46

Suddenly Samphos’ mother came back to see their faces white from flour. “How dare you!” she says. “You know what? People work hard to grow rice. I’ve done it. If you don’t respect flour, it means you don’t respect the people who work very hard in the field.” “Sorry Aunt,” Rith and Bopha said. “Sorry Mother,” Samphos said. They continued working. Bopha continued talking about her plans. “If I have time, I want to take karate lessons! Wouldn’t that be great? Perhaps I could be a star one day. Samphos, do you want to join me?” Samphos sighed deeply. Money was a problem for her family “I don’t know. I should ask my mother first.” * * *

After lunch the three students sat outside, eating cookies. “We’d better go.” Rith said. “Ok, thanks for today,” said Samphos. “Samphos, tomorrow, do you want to go to register for summer class with me? I can come to pick you up.” Said Bopha. “Um… eh… I have to ask my mum. So can you wait for after tomorrow?” replied Samphos. “Ok, no problem,” said Bopha. Bopha and Rith headed off. Samphos thought, I hope mother will be OK to pay for my summer class. * * *

The next day, early in the morning, Samphos and her mother traveled by moto to deliver baked goods to different shops. This tiring work took all morning, but with Samphos to help it was a bit easier. Samphos’ mother also collected money for that week’s sales. “Mum, eh... next year, I’ll be in grade 12. Do you think I should have summer class to prepare myself for this important grade?” asked Samphos.

47

“Sure, you should have it, but...”, Samphos’ mother said. “We should take the rest of these cookies to the Old Market this afternoon, and collect money from the sellers. So you will have enough money for this summer class,” she smiled. “Don’t worry Mother,” Samphos says. “I will take them this afternoon”. Her mother smiled again. “OK!” After lunch, Samphos set out on her bike to the Old Market. “I’m sorry Samphos,” says one lady, “but we have to pay some extra fees this month.” “The tax has gone up, Auntie?” Samphos asked curiously. “No, no… to be a seller you must take the good with the bad. There are some ‘unofficial’ fees I must pay. This is just the way of life as a seller. So I won’t be able to pay you for all the cookies for this last week.” Samphos continued around the market. Each person had a similar story. “I’m sorry, but the price of business is going up. Can you reduce the price of your cookies?” “Thank you for the cookies, maybe we can pay next week.” “I’m, sorry, we had extra payments to make.” “I’m so sorry, my costs are getting higher.” After distributing all the cookies, Samphos sat down at a sugarcane juice stand and had a drink to refresh herself. Then she counted her money. There was a lot less than usual. This was very upsetting. What would she tell her mother? It could be a big problem for the family. Her class! It seemed so far away now. What would she tell her family? What would she tell her friends? Samphos felt both sad and afraid to face them. She sat at the cane juice stand a long time, thinking of what to do. END OF PART ONE Can YOU write the conclusion?

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Life's Choices
Samphos, Bopha and Rith have been close friends since childhood. This school year, they are learning together in grade 11E at Kompong Spean Senior High School. Rith has taken interest (along with many other boys) in Dany, one of the most popular girls in class. Dany is not only a pretty girl, but also a strong-willed and hard working person. Unlike Dany, Rith is a quiet student. What can he do to set himself apart from the crowd? Samphos and Bopha are only too happy to help their friend. What is the special formula, then, to win over a beautiful girl's heart?

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