135 educators, students, and community members gathered at the Japanese American National Museum March 8 for an Indie Lens Pop-up preview screening of “The Bad Kids.” The film, airing on PBS SoCal March 20, follows three students struggling to graduate from Black Rock Continuation High School in Yucca Valley as they try to balance the pressures of school and home life.
KPCC education reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez led a post-screening conversation with the audience and three young adults who have attended alternative schools and programs in Los Angeles: Vincent Avila, Michelle Diaz, and Gabriel Perez. Like the students in the film, Diaz, an Upward Bound student who graduated from Manual Arts High School, says she “knows how much of a struggle it is to leave what’s happening at home at home.” Now a student at UC Riverside, the first in her family to attend college, she encouraged the audience to remember that “it’s not where you come from, it’s how much you want it.”
Finding motivation is a challenge for many students in alternative and continuation high schools. Vincent Avila, a current high school student who began attending Metropolitan High School and artworxLA in 2015, describes a moment when his teacher “noticed that I was good at math–I didn’t even know I was good at math. That was a turning point.” A vital factor in his continued success has also been discovering real life applications of classroom learning through artworxLA, an arts integration program: “when you come at us with real opportunities, that’s the most amazing thing.” Gabriel Perez, an artworxLA alumni who is now a quality control technician at BET, echoed that sentiment, emphasizing the importance of putting maximum personal effort into opportunities that emerge.
The evening, in photos: