Last Spring I had the privilege of documenting the first graduation at Churchill Academy, a tiny school in the Churchill neighborhood of Richmond. This school of 18 to 20 kids, all very high risk, watched as three seniors received their diplomas. The moment marked a visible success arrived at with the support, love and hard work of a whole community of people. CHAT, Church Hill Activities and Tutoring, the non-profit that founded the high school, has been dedicated to the children of the community for years. Founders Percy and Angie Strickland, whose home is an amazing hub of learning, love and chaos, decided they would move to Churchill in 2000 to try to learn how to be true neighbors, live among people who were different from themselves, and live the scriptures they were studying. After children began consistently showing up on their front porch, the couple recruited friends and co-workers to start an after-school tutoring program. The program has grown and grown and now volunteers from all over the city flock to the hill a few times a week to read with children of all ages, help them with their homework and show them that someone cares. Following is the multimedia piece I built for the story and a link to the Richmond Times-Dispatch story that ran Thanksgiving day. It was an honor to document the stories of Sam, Monique and Essence. Even in the short time I had with them, I learned how much they had to overcome to get to that graduation moment and what it meant for them and their families. Enjoy!
*As of now, Sam is still undecided about his next step but is considering joining the military or attending a trade school. Monique and Essence are students at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond. Essence intends to transfer to a four-year college and become a counselor. She would like to help kids.*
Multimedia by Eva Russo
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