WOODLAWN — The meaning behind a message on the wall outside Wadsworth STEM Elementary School is stumping the new teachers, parents and even the students who just moved to the building this year.
“Lol :) liv / do u kno y? / gr8 com cr8s gr8 ppl / a ______ jrny sts w/1 stp/ me2+u2=we2,” reads the phrase just below the school's main sign at the building at 6650 S. Ellis Ave., which Wadsworth took over after Dumas Technology Academy was shuttered in June.
None of the new students, parents or teachers were involved in creating the aphorism, which uses the abbreviations and shorthand of the Internet and text messaging. While many like it, no one interviewed at the school this week could give a definitive translation for every line — even though there is a sign underneath that purports to translate it.
“I don’t even get it,” said 14-year-old Taniya Ashby, a seventh-grader at Wadsworth.
Parent Quina Davis — who has a fifth-grade son, Zamarlin, and sixth-grade daughter, Zaria, at Wadsworth — thought her kids knew its meaning, but couldn't translate it herself.
Aldina Loggings, a sixth- and seventh-grade teacher at the school, deciphered the message as “Laugh out loud (smiley face) live / Do you know why? / Great community creates great people / A journey starts with one step / Me too plus you too equals we too.”
"I like it," she said. “It’s attractive to the students because of the texting phase we’re in.”
But others quibbled about her translation of the last line. New Principal Rashid Shabazz said while he agreed with the Loggings' reading of the beginning, he understood the last line to read more simply: “Me and you equals we.”
“I think it’s sweet,” he said, while staring up at the phrase.
He added: “They asked me when I came if I wanted to take it down and I said no. It makes you stop and think about what it is and what it means.”
Even Macquline King, the principal at Dumas when the sign was installed during the 2008 school year, couldn't completely shed light on its meaning.
King, now the principal at Courtenay Elementary School, said the message was conceived by students at the time with the help of nonprofits promoting architecture and engineering in schools.
King said the message is supposed to read, "Laugh out loud, smile, live / Do you know why? / Great community creates great people / A long journey starts with a single step / Me too plus you two equals we two."
King said she was confident about all of it, but — like everyone else — she was a little unsure about the closing verse.
While the sign at the base of the display is fading, and some of it is illegible, it gives yet a slightly different translation, although it speaks more in generalities.
"Live life to the fullest / Ask questions / Listen ... / One thing at a time," the orange lettering reads.
And the last line's message?
“Together we achieve more."