Dad always said it’s the in-betweens that are the worst, because you’re allowed the time to think. That’s when the demons come out. After that it becomes bearable – the missing – it’s just the in-between that kills. The smog’s density is almost palpable as......19 January, 20157 Comments
I began with three questions: How do student immigrants go from surviving to thriving in a new country, how do their identities evolve during that transition, and what are the biggest challenges facing families immigrating to the United States today?
After spending my 2013-14 school year with fifteen different immigrant families in my hometown, and drawing from my own experiences as an immigrant, I have accrues incredible insights into the dozens of issues these student immigrants and their families cope with daily. Culminating in an exhibition and lecture I spent the ten-month period documenting the individual stories and supplementing those with a documentary on my findings narrated by the district lead ESL teacher.
In 2012 when The Camden Street Elementary School, a K-8 school, reopened in Newark as one of many renewal schools in the district, there was an 18% literacy rate among students at the minimum state level. With one art teacher and one music teacher for eight hundred students and nothing in the way of extra-curricular art programs, both literacy and the arts were labeled as emergencies by the new principle Mr. Garrison.
In the summer of 2013, Randolph High School senior Seth Mitchell proposed a project to unite the two school districts in an effort to address and improve those emergencies. The proposed partnership of CSES and RHS would see the pairing of thirty Randolph High School students with eighty of the Camden Street students for the purpose of writing, producing and performing an original musical.
Working as Seth’s right hand man I lead the writing of the musical, its direction, the documentation, filming and post-production of the documentary and as a promoter of the project.
Over the period of time between first meeting of the two groups in January of 2014 till the musicals completion and multiple performances in June, socioeconomic barriers were shatter by the friendships forged, stereotypes were broken, grades and behaviors were improved, and two completely opposite groups of people were united in pursuit of this one goal.
By my third year of High School I had noticed that any school is a community of committed and skilled professionals working seamlessly together across multiple disciplines and without whose efforts, the students wouldn’t have the quality of education frequently taken for granted. This-my first photo-journalistic project and resulting solo-exhibition-is a series of photographs and stories about the hidden clockwork that makes Randolph High School tick. These are the stories of the people who don’t get summers off, those who stayed through the night to make sure the building didn’t fall apart in the storms, those who who clean up after the students and faculty. These are the stories of the bus drivers, the lunch ladies, and the security guards. These are the people who do the jobs that some would never want to. These are the people who make the American School System work. These are the Unsung Heroes of Randolph High School.