Students make video to prove that their high school needs to be repaired

The short documentary video opens with a high school student explaining how human waste floats up from the ground and floods an area where he and his friends are having lunch.

In the eight-minute video with background music and captions of key quotes, students at Druid Hills High School use iPhones to document classrooms, hallways, and bathrooms that crumble around them.

In several scenes, plaster falls off walls and water drips around electrical outlets in an area. So much water has seeped into the weight room that it seeps up from the floor when a student steps on it. Another student demonstrates how one of the holes in a ceiling is so large that he can stick his whole hand through it.

“You can tell someone about the conditions, but when you visually see it, it’s much more effective,” second-grader Harley Martz, one of the students who produced the video, told The Associated Press in an interview. “Some of the things we pointed out in the video are very indisputable.”

“When you go through school now, you can smell the mold, and it’s kind of really ugly,” Montrice Berry, a junior student at Druid Hills, said in the video. “So I tend to go outside just so I can avoid the smell.”

Now, after the video came out, “every time I walk around the halls, people are like ‘I’m so proud of you because you say that,'” Berry said in an interview.

The video, which has garnered more than 27,000 views so far since it was posted on YouTube this month, has caused outrage among some parents in the suburbs just east of Atlanta who want repairs. It was produced after the DeKalb County School Board in February removed Druid Hills from a list of schools in need of priority renovations.

The video won praise from other students.

“I went into my first period and my fellow students clapped,” Martz said.

It’s the latest effort from students, parents and teachers across the country to show people how conditions are in their schools – and make their arguments that improvements are badly needed.

In Virginia, journalism students documented the conditions at Maury High School and showed the video on the YouTube channel they use for school news broadcasts. Administrators ordered them to remove the video from the YouTube channel in 2019.

That same year in Louisiana, a video of residents revealed problems at Block High School in Jonesville, about 90 miles (about 145 kilometers) northwest of Baton Rouge. In Duvall County, Florida, the county produced a similar video in 2019 to persuade voters to approve a VAT measure that would pay for repairs.

In Georgia, the DeKalb County School Board will consider a resolution “to modernize Druid Hills High School,” according to the agenda. The school has been in operation since the 1920s and is among the oldest in Georgia, according to historical reports from the school district. Film crews used it as a backdrop for several scenes in the 2000 film “Remember the Titans”.

The agenda for Monday’s meeting contains no details, so it is unclear what the board will discuss or ultimately do.

The video showed “many areas of concern throughout the building that we have known for a long time and have been working to address in meaningful ways,” Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris said in a April 13 letter to community members that the district also shared with the media.

“As always, we are grateful for these students’ advocacy for themselves and future generations of students,” she wrote.

The school district and board “remain fully committed to ensuring that all scholars are in positive learning environments,” she wrote, adding that she expects the board’s next step will be to “move forward with renovations at the school, including meeting immediate needs.” . “

But students are waiting for concrete steps to be taken to improve their school.

“So far, I feel like they’re just talking,” Berry said. “I do not really see a change so far. No one has really done anything.”

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