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Center for Regional Citizenship
Free Screening of 180 DAYS: A Year Inside an American High School

180 Days on WHRO TV

Attend a free screening of 180 DAYS: A Year Inside an American High School.

The screening is presented by WHRO's Center for Regional Citizenship and Norfolk's Maury High School. Please join us on Thursday, March 14, 2013 from 7 - 8:30 pm in the Maury High School Auditorium. Special guests are Tanishia Williams Minor, Principal of DC Met and Maury High School graduate, and Alexis Phyllis Aggrey, 180 DAYS Production Manager and Norfolk State University alumna. Barbara Hamm Lee, host and executive producer of WHRV's Another View program, will moderate discussion.

180 DAYS:  A YEAR INSIDE AN AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOL is an intimate portrait of life for the first graduating class of Washington Metropolitan High School (DC Met), a public school in Washington, D.C, where only seven percent of students are deemed “proficient” in math and only 19 percent in reading.

Produced by the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), 180 DAYS chronicles the lives of teachers, students, administrators and parents struggling to keep their students on track to graduation at DC Met. The inner-city school embodies the complex challenges of adapting to the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” school reform initiative, in which school funding and personnel decisions are based in large part on the results of high-stakes standardized tests.

At the center of 180 DAYS is a charismatic and outspoken young principal, Tanishia Williams Minor, who is in her second year as head of the school. Despite low test scores and numerous other issues, Principal Minor remains optimistic that her students can succeed despite the personal and academic obstacles they face and the scrutiny that she and the school are under from the administration at DC Public Schools. Her optimism that the students can succeed seems indefatigable, but even she admits, “I believe we can move mountains, but the students have to be here for us to do it.”

Like many other high-poverty schools, truancy, or chronic absenteeism, is an issue that plagues DC Met and is a leading indicator for dropping out. In 2011, nearly 50 percent of students from DC Met could be classified as truant. Throughout 180 DAYS, faculty members scour roll call reports to see who’s showing up for homeroom and who’s not, and drive through the streets of the nation’s capital evangelizing kids, parents and sometimes grandparents about the importance of their high school diplomas. In one powerful scene, the basketball coach reminds his team that if they do not show up for school, they cannot stay on the team — to which one of the players responds by walking out of the gym as cameras roll.

“We all hear about the national school reform effort, but rarely do we get to see deep inside the schools that are most impacted by policies to improve public education,” said Jacquie Jones, executive producer of the film. “The challenges that teachers and administrators face are extraordinary — from student and parent deaths from violent crime and chronic illnesses to homelessness, discipline and safety issues, pregnancies and disengagement. When we look in from this lens, the story is a different one — one of uncommon passion and commitment that teachers and school leaders, like those at DC Met, show as they do everything they can to help these kids succeed and see the value in their own education.”

180 DAYS airs Monday-Tuesday, March 25-26, 2013, from 9 to 11pm on WHRO TV15.  The program is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which helps communities nationwide understand and implement solutions to address the high school dropout crisis.

Major support for the screening is provided by Norfolk State University. Additional support is provided by Virginia Ship Repair Association.