Students tell their stories of overcoming hardship to stay in school in upcoming documentary

Filmmakers creating a documentary about the dropout epidemic are visiting schools across the nation, including in the tornado-ravaged town of Joplin, Missouri.

“We’re really making film through the eyes of graduates,” filmmaker Jason Pollock said. “It’s a story about why we have the dropout problem but through students who are graduates who have been through a lot. We knew everybody in Joplin had that. I felt like it was an important place to go and give students a voice.”

According to an article in the The Joplin Globe, Joplin High School’s FLEX program for students who are struggling to stay in school is one of the six schools across the country being highlighted in the film and social media campaign “Undroppable.”

Pollock said he hopes the project will become a global movement, and with producers including singer Justin Bieber’s manager and the director of “Anchorman 2,” that may just happen.

“Our focus is meeting the needs of those kids as they continue in school,” said Superintendent C.J. Huff. “A lot of issues these kids have in dropping out has as much to do with their life experiences outside of school as it does inside school, and we’re in the fortunate position of helping students get an education, and that’s important.”

The goal of the social media and online video portion is to create “a place where everybody feels they’ve gotten some platform,” the producers said.

“We love Joplin and we met so many amazing students there,” Pollock said. “When other kids hear these stories, they will make them want to stay in school, too.”

The film is planned to be released in early 2013.

Other schools in the documentary include Collins Academy High School in Chicago; Des Moines East High School in Des Moines, Iowa; New Bedford High School and Whaling City Junior/Senior Alternative School in New Bedford, Mass.; Academy at Palumbo Liberal Arts High School in Philadelphia; and La Causa Charter School in Los Angeles.

The more exposure that the dropout epidemic can get, the better. Dropouts affect each and every one of us, and until we all start caring and working toward solutions, we won’t stem the tide. Projects like this hopefully will bring about awareness and change that will help every student — despite the trials they are facing — find a way to a high school diploma.