ELIZABETH wins a silver medal with her speech. She's happy, but doesn't want Academic Decathlon to end. She and her best friend Helen, who's Ethiopian, go to Washington, DC with Close Up, an organization that takes high school kids from across the country to DC. They are hit by racism from many of the predominantly white kids from other schools on the trip, and it's an eye-opener for Liz.
As Christmas approaches, JEN buys a tree with her mom, and Jet gets more and more angry with his dad, who seems to be trying to get closer to him "after all these years". For Jet, it's too late. His dad, who grew up in the Philippines, has always believed Jet should be "afraid" of him to help him be a man.
JACQUELINE's mom is a minister and her dad is a rock musician. They are a loving family, with her mom clearly at the head. Separately, Jacqueline and her parents discuss her history with the "ADD" drug Ritalin, which she started taking in the 4th grade. Jacqueline says it messed with her psyche, making her so angry that once she pulled a knife on her mom, "who I love more than anything in the world."
The deadline passes, and DERARD has not been offered a scholarship. He is deeply depressed. "My dreams are fading away."
JET has had it with ROTC and the constant abuse from their teacher. He decides to quit, and walks out.
JEAN and MARIA are having rough times. Maria begins pressuring Jean to get married, even as things remain rocky, particularly with her and his family. He tells Maria he's not ready for marriage, and she doesn't see what he's afraid of. "Am I not enough for you? Am I too much? I don't know."
All of the kids celebrate Christmas and New Year's (2000) in various ways, from all night parties (Maria) to going to bed at 11 (BORIS). Jet begins to see that his dad may be sincere in his overtures to him, and he feels hopeful about their newly emerging relationship.