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Archive for February, 2008

Everyday people seeking to make it

Friday, February 15th, 2008

The students, families, and crew of First Person recently got to see the completed film for the first time. Below are excerpts from the written response of Ginger Graves, Kurtis’s mother.

Hi Ben here are my comments after watching the DVD…

In some ways, I finish watching this film thinking that it was a
failure because no one made it to a four year college. On the other hand, I
felt it was a success because it showed real life circumstances and how
they affect the lives of everyday people seeking to make it from high
school to college. This was awesome because nothing is hidden – not the
start of boot camp, incarceration or advanced college entrance to the
discharges – from the dropouts to the GED’s – to the graduations, to
college acceptance and scholarship availability – from the family support
system to the lack there of. It all comes down to real life issues and
challenges. These young people never gave up they are still pushing
forward. This is the key to this project and it has indeed accomplished
its task through the lives of these six students.

I pray that those watching this film especially the young people won’t get
discouraged…I pray that they see instead community college as a stepping stone to a four year
college… We need to make sure our children look
at this community [college] experience as a stepping stone, low cost opportunity not
a failure to not make it to a four year college.


Great Job overall. Praying for much success! We can benefit
these young people in the struggle to make it against all odds and their
ability to do so. I know I have said alot. call me if you want to talk.

A deteriorating, overcrowded, dirty, struggling, and polluted environment

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Thirty-two urban education students from Swarthmore College recently watched the introductory First Person DVD on their first day of class. Over the next several weeks, excerpts from their responses will be posted as part of this blog.

When I think of urban education, I most often envision a poor school within a deteriorating, overcrowded, dirty, struggling, and polluted environment. I imagine noisy, crowded classrooms with inexperienced teachers who cannot control their students. First Person, on the other hand, gave little attention to this aspect of urban education. Instead, the film was devoted to highlighting the lives outside the classroom of students who attend schools in urban environments. As an outsider, it is easy to remove the individuals from such an environment and become caught up with how depressed and hopeless their situations appear. The six students in First Person, on the other hand, are not looking for sympathy. Although some of the students’ schools resembled the picture of urban education I had in my mind, the students try not to let these factors distract them from their goals, for most of which included going to college.

After seeing this film, I believe that all children really want to do something meaningful with their lives, whether that means going to college or being a positive influence to younger siblings. Although self-motivation is important, children need reinforcement and someone to believe in them in order to remain focused and motivated towards achieving their goals. They need someone to support them as they work towards graduating high school and college and transitioning to living independent and productive lives. Despite the conditions of their schools, most of the students in First Person remained optimistic about the future because they had support from their friends and family along with self motivation.

This film has also made me realize that you cannot generalize students in urban environments. Although the schools of many of the students in First Person face many of the same issues, each student lives a very different life. Each student faces the daily pressures of school while dealing with a variety of issues at home and on the streets. As a result, education policy must account for and reflect the diversity of the students it affects.

it’s valentimes day…. :-) I figure we all need a pick me up

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

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umm lets see how about some good updates….. ummm my mom got married …she seems pretty happy about it…. I saw the completed First person video….I cried at least 10times..everyone should see it…and I also heard that some film festivals are interested in us….

that makes me feel good …I jus hope that I’m not a big dissappointment in the end…..I know there has to be thousands of people out there praying and putting positive energy out ther for me and my friends hoping that we’ll all make it big…
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…what I’ve been up to..

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

the semester ended and so did my college experience…..I decided to take some time off to get my mind together and to save some money…. so far I guess everything is ok..
I’m working at whole foods full-time and I’m supposed to start a second job soon..
I wish I could spill my guts and tell the universe every thing thats wrong in my life but I don’t really want the sympathy …I just want things to be easier….the burdens to be lifted and happyness to return…
I wish I could go back to that origional master plan I created for my life….the one with all the money …the white picket fence the whole 9….
I miss the comfort of my dreamland…..reality is so ….whats the word……utterly dissappointing…
I keep questioning the purpose of our lives….
the religious me …would say …”the purpose of life is to reach perfection and return to the most high”
and yet life says ….”the purpose of this life is to dream big….aim small get a job work your whole life forget you hopes an dreams no need for time to yourself to seek perfection life’s about survivlal……sleep when you die”
I dunno its strange how with every new turn in my life the mask over my eyes begins to evaporate……These are all the things my mother worked so hard to protect me from,…..The idea that life isn’t as easy as it seems……
what else can I say……
Thanx Mom for giving me a Childhood
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When I think urban, I think black

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Thirty-two urban education students from Swarthmore College recently watched the introductory First Person DVD on their first day of class. Over the next several weeks, excerpts from their responses will be posted as part of this blog.

Urban education provokes images of large, graffitied schools in dire condition. I grew up in white suburbia in the wealthy suburbs of Boulder, Colorado. At best, I had limited experience interacting with teenagers from the “urban� sections of Denver. These experiences were drawn from day or evening trips to the city to compete in athletic or debate tournaments. The few experiences I had were brief ones, and only offered glimpses into these communities. I would see dozens of black kids loitering out front of dilapidated schools wearing stereotypical “hip-hop� garb. I vividly remembering having to wait inside a school bus for five minutes outside of one school because an administrator charged with the duty of escorting us 50 yards into the school was running a few minutes behind schedule.

My time at Swarthmore had enlightened my view on urban education, but I still harbor these biases because they were my first experiences interacting in an urban educational environment. Obviously, the portraits of the six teenagers in the First Person trailer differ, in certain ways, from my simplistic, generalized notion of urban education. First off, when I think of urban education, I think black. I was caught off guard when the trailer transitioned from one of the African-American students to one of Caucasian decent….Of course I know that urban schools are not 100 percent black, but when I think urban, I think black.

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