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Partnering with Critical Exposure allowed us to further develop the creative skills of the students and utilize those skills to provide greater context to the issues.
At DC Met, students are in the process of choosing a campaign focus. Currently they're discussing their attendance policy, security process, school facilities, and cellphone removal. Students met with their principal in November to discuss these topics and quickly found that he will be an ally in making change at the school.
Students have also learned about juxtaposition, and some took photos of nearby Dunbar's new building to highlight the disparity between this newly renovated school and their own. The students are very passionate about getting better resources at DC Met and many of their recent conversations have been about economic inequality.
Facilitators from the Advancement Project have also been involved in our class at DC Met. Through a trivia game, students learned about the DC School (Discipline) Code and later students discussed how they feel that their peers are suspended for minor infractions.
This Spring semester (2013), Critical Exposure has embarked on an exciting new opportunity at The Washington Metropolitan High School. We are now teaching five days a week, which means more opportunities to develop relationships within the class and more time to develop our campaign around the issues that arise during class discussions.
During the Fall 2012 semester, Critical Exposure partnered with D.C. Met's Art I class. Students decided to use their photography to lead a campaign to improve technology resources at the school. After a few research meetings with their principal, the class chose to focus on getting a computer technology teacher at D.C. Met beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. In response to presentations given by students of their photography and writing, their principal has agreed to include a computer technology teacher in the hiring budget for next school year.
In August 2011 a second Critical Exposure class began at D.C. Met. Students this year documented their lives and set about their goal of building a more inspiring and respectful school culture. After months of photography and planning, they organized their peers to create a Peer Jury & Restorative Justice program for their school. They presented their proposal to the school leadership team, which has given its full support to the project. Students are now in the process of recruiting jurors and establishing an official policy for the school.
In January 2011 Critical Exposure initiated a program at the Washington Metropolitan High School, an alternative D.C. public high school located in Ward 1 of D.C. Students identified their school's lack of a library as a major obstacle to academic success. After a semester of documenting a disorganized storeroom and the consequences of illiteracy, the students presented their photographs and writing to their school's Superintendent and DCPS officials to eventually win more than $20,000 in funding and thousands of donated books. In February 2012, more than one year after they began their project, Critical Exposure students at D.C. Met celebrated their victory. Their school now has a fully-equipped library, complete with relevant books, sturdy shelves, new computer, comfortable chairs for relaxing, and elegant glass tables for groupwork.