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Web helps puts face on school budget cuts

Bowman students, teachers produce video to share perspective

Posted: April 20, 2009 10:37 p.m.
Updated: April 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

As budget cuts and teacher layoffs at school districts become more of a reality, students and teachers at Bowman High School are turning to the YouTube online video site to show just how much the continuation high school impacts the lives of at-risk students.

"We want to put a face to the budget cuts," said Maggie Burr, an English teacher at Bowman High School.

In the online video, Bowman High School students and teachers chronicle what the continuation high school has done for them.

"The school's really brought out the best in me," one student told the camera.

"They respect everyone's individuality and it's cool to be able to be yourself at school because it makes it easier for you to learn," another said in the video.

Students who attend Bowman High School face troubling situations ranging from drug abuse to unstable home lives.

"My father was shot and killed. He was a gang member. He was a drug addict," one student said during the video.

Still, he's found opportunities at Bowman.

"I think God did that so I could really open my eyes and change my life for my son and break the cycle," he said.

Teachers created the eight-minute video after recording four hours of footage from about 85 Bowman High School students who lined up outside a classroom to spend a few minutes in front of the camera in February, Burr said.

They answered questions about what Bowman High School does for them and where they would be without the school.

The answers ranged from dropping out to being back on the streets to even death.

Students in the video shared their perspectives about the continuation high school Monday.

"Bowman is a second chance for me," 17-year-old Angel Salgado said.

For him, it's the closeness he feels to the staff.

"The classes are small. The teachers know what you've been through," Salgado said.

Heather Smallwood wants to show others that Bowman is not a "bad" school, but rather a place that creates opportunities for its students.

"People actually care about your education here and whether or not I come to school," Smallwood said.

But the school inspires more than higher grades and a realization that college can be a reality as it inspires personal growth in its students who face challenges in their personal lives.

"I grew up after I came here," 18-year-old Alex Kim said.

By Monday, more than 300 people had viewed the online video. The school plans to circulate the video to raise awareness about Bowman High School.


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