Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund Grantee

The Bad Kids

Lou Pepe, Keith Fulton
Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe, Molly O'Brien
Grant Year(s):
white male teen looks through chainlink fence at school

On any day at Black Rock High, "Pomp and Circumstance" might echo in the hallway, and a new graduate will march through a column of cheering kids. A diploma here is a momentous achievement. Principal Vonda Viland runs Black Rock Continuation High like a one-room schoolhouse. She knows the names and lives of each of her students. She doesn’t foster false hopes or dreams of unlikely riches. Her philosophy embodies empathy and realism, and given Black Rock’s rising graduation rate, it seems to be working. Her students' lives run the gamut of tragedy: unwanted pregnancies, abuse, homelessness; and unlike other teenagers, they view their high school education as a critical second chance. "Black Rock" is a portrait of Viland’s work and the journeys of several of her students. It is not a story of triumph against all odds. It is a story of taking achievable steps toward pride and security.