Our Schools are UNDROPPABLE

“Of all the issues I could make a film about, as an activist for the world, I feel like education is the issue that needs to be fixed.”

Jason Pollock is tackling his select problem with a documentary in-the-making, “Undroppable.”  Launched on Tumblr, Pollock’s campaign is all about the unsung schools where it is worth celebrating each student that manages to graduate.

Littered over the site are two minute Youtube videos that are student-focused. Each individual has a story, each one an environment they are living in that is pulling them down. Whether poverty or broken neighborhoods, they are odds that threaten to defeat them. In a straightforward manner, the high-schoolers deliver his or her personal narrative. Jade Roeder is orphaned with rent to pay. Cynthia Gallardo’s father was arrested, her mother went through abusive boyfriends, and then she became pregnant at sixteen. Despite their best intentions, the bleak quality of their lives gets in the way of grades. Yet with what Pollock calls a “resiliency” that is a “defining trait in many of these kids”, they are all determined to graduate. They are “undroppable.”

With a layout made for easy reblogging and a demographic supportive of social justice reforms, Pollock makes good use of a social media platform. His format includes six school Tumblr pages with one main blog to showcase them all collectively, and as many as 60 individual pages to help promote the effort. Each student has an introduction and is eventually given a handheld camera to compile video diary updates. The collection will amass into one film documentary, set to unveil in 2013.

Pollock admits so far it is too early for a definitive path to take to solve the problem, but the first step is getting the word out and the stories down. Going into these towns as a white person with a camera, he was often seen as a threat.

“Part of what I’m trying to change – yes, here we are with cameras, but we’re not the cops, and we’re not here to cover something bad. We’re here to cover something good.”

Instead of waiting for more tragic trends to report, he seeks the valiant few within the dropout epidemic. Although focus is directed on all the aspects of what makes a student’s life difficult, the larger question is also what keeps them going.

“Schools should not just be about statistics and grades. There are real people inside of them who are going through a lot to be there, and they deserve our respect.”

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