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Representation in literature and media can serve as a powerful lens through which students come to make sense of and understand the world. The way that characters are represented through language and in images—their appearance, family and environment as well as their hopes and their abilities—conveys meaningful messages to the viewer about themselves, other people, and the society they live in.

Representation is an “essential part of the process by which meaning is produced and exchanged between members of a culture” (Hall, 1997); the extent to which students are represented in books, movies, the news, and even school instructional materials has the potential to profoundly shape their worldview.

A positive representation of a student’s identity creates positive associations of who they are. It can spark their imagination and give them confidence to strive for their goals. Conversely, a negative representation creates negative associations, which can undermine a student’s sense of self and proliferate harmful stereotypes (Baldwin, 2014). In short, representation matters.


Fly Five is designed with the awareness that students’ diversity is not always sufficiently represented, both among the educators who teach them and the education products, resources, and materials they engage with. Without accurate representation, a curriculum is not designed to adequately create teaching conditions and practices that embrace the diversity of experience and perspective of students.

Central to Fly Five is a cast of nine characters who, along with their families, represent a wide range of differences in race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, diverse family structures, socioeconomic status, age, physical and/or mental capabilities, and religious beliefs. While no one curriculum could capture the vast diversities that exist among the students in schools everywhere, Fly Five was specifically and intentionally designed to address the gaps in adequate representation.

The Center City Kids grow up within the curriculum, so students meet a developmentally-appropriate version of them in each grade span. As the students learn from the characters’ successes and challenges, they will see their own experiences reflected in the curriculum materials. This ensures that students connect personally with the characters, allowing for more growth, learning, and engagement. Read on to learn all about the students who live in Center City!

The Center City Kids


Anisa spends lots of time journaling, writing, and expanding her photography portfolio. Anisa can find inspiration anywhere, but spending time at her local museum to examine other local artists’ work is particularly inspiring to her.

See Anisa’s Story

Blake enjoys team sports, like baseball, and can be found gathering a group together to hang out at the skatepark. Blake thrives when he can entertain his friends and make everyone in the room laugh.

See Blake’s Story

Doba is a musician, and she can spend hours writing original songs. She finds musical inspiration not only in nature but also in art and music of the musicians she admires.

See Doba’s Story

Gabriel is a deep thinker who uses art to express himself and understand the world around him. He connects with graphic novels and spends his free time working on his own graphic novel series.

See Gabriel’s Story

Imani loves performances of any kind: dancing, singing, acting, or all three at once! When she is not in rehearsals or performing, Imani likes trying adventurous sports like rock climbing or zip-lining.

See Imani’s Story

Jade finds adventure in reading comic books and fantasy novels. Jade loves all animals and spending quiet days with her little brother, Hunter, and her cat, Marigold.

See Jade’s Story

Kofi is focused and he loves soccer, math and science. Kofi enjoys a challenge, and he spends as much time as he needs to persevere through problems.

See Kofi’s Story

Luna is a natural leader and loves gymnastics. She enjoys spending time with her teammates and thrives when she has to lead the team into a competition.

See Luna’s Story

Shen values his family and community and loves to spend time helping others. He is interested in fashion and creatively finds ways to weave diverse trends into his wardrobe.

See Shen’s Story


The characters in the Fly Five curriculum live in a vibrant and diverse commuter town located just outside of a metropolitan area. This fictional metropolis of Center City, home to the Center City Kids, was inspired and named after the educational non-profit organization, Center for Responsive Schools, the developer of Avenue A, Fly Five, and Responsive Classroom.

From the museums to the parks, the farmers market to the lake, their neighborhood offers activities to satisfy a budding athlete, a young artist, a novice scientist, and anyone in between. While some characters have recently moved here and others have lived in the same home their whole lives, they are all friends and learn, play, and give back to their community together! Each character has a unique story to tell, and they celebrate each other’s strengths while valuing what makes each character and their family unique. The Fly Five community is dynamic and collaborative, always working to ensure that they create a welcoming and positive environment for anyone who may stop in for a visit.

Hover over the map and find where the characters live!


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