By Riley Robinson
Landon Chambers, 13, (left) and Christian Mateo, 14, are just finishing a basketball game with their friends at McLaughlin Park, still buttoned in their blue polo uniforms, fresh from school. They often hang out here or get food with friends before they take on their 30-minute commute from Roxbury Prep back to Dorchester. They’re both in the eighth grade.
“There’s this pizza place right down the hill,” Mateo said. “If we have money, we get food. And if we don’t, then we just wait for people and we ask them for food. Everybody’s pretty kind around here.”
They disagree on whether pineapple is an appropriate pizza topping. Both like pepperoni, but they usually just get cheese.
As for school? 8th grade isn’t going as well as 7th.
“We used to like it last year,” Chambers said. “This year it’s horrible. They’re strict on the field trips now.”
Mateo interjected. “If you go like this,” he said, modeling a hand-under-chin slump, “they get you in trouble.”
They say getting in trouble is worst in the winter, because it’s dark by the time detention ends.
“You get out of school late and it’s dark. Like, you gotta be careful,” Chambers said. “Like every day, there’s a police and an ambulance around. There’s always some trouble going on, basically.”
Again, Mateo was ready to finish his train of thought. “We don’t want to get caught in the crossfire.”