Examine Melinda's attitude in her art class.
Melinda's attitude in art class is noticeably different than what she shows in her other classes. Surrounded by teachers who embody a stunning lack of empathy and curriculum that does not appeal to her, Melinda finds something different in her art class experience. She likes the project assigned to her. The project of having to construct something over the course of the year appeals to her. She does not like the topic she was given- trees. While she tries to change the topic, she is "stuck with it." Eventually, she comes around to it, but the fact that she "speaks" to her teacher about wishing to change it is extremely significant.
Melinda is in a point in her life where silence is becoming the norm. Given the fact that she has not fully processed what happened to her that night, her descent into silence can be understood. For her to speak about what she wishes to change is reflective of something new for her. At the same time, it becomes clear that she likes Mr. Freeman, or at least, she finds him to be more approachable than her other teachers. It would be in these points of reference where Melinda's attitude in her art class is fundamentally different than her other classes.