Rochester, N.Y. – Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Those are words several East High School students want to follow.
Students created a documentary looking at the Rochester City School District’s ability to prepare its students for college.
The students are a part of the group The Rochester Participatory Educational Research Collaborative or RPERC.
Students worked with college professors, high school teachers and their peers to put together the film.
“Most people think that college readiness is about the grades and the test score and it's not always about that,” East High School senior C.J. Miles said. “It's also about responsibility, how respectful you are, how social you are, how confident you are in yourself.”
Students Imani Monroe and C.J. Miles say they believe the school district is behind suburban schools.
“I was noticing how unaware of all the problems we were having. Having the lowest graduates, black male graduates, having only 5% of our high school graduates be college-ready,” Monroe said.
That statistic is particularly upsetting to Miles.
“As a black male, it's kind of a disgrace. I know that all aren't prepared to go to college but a lot of them are prepared to do other things in life,” Miles said.
The group hopes the film will help close the gap between urban and suburban schools.
For Monroe, the mission is personal.
She says academics is how she overcame her own struggles.
“Academics was a way out, a way to succeed because there are a lot of stereotypes of being an RCSD student,” Monroe said.
Those are stereotypes the students hope their film will break.
The documentary will be seen around the country.
It was accepted into the national film festival in San Francisco.
“I feel like it's going to open a lot of people's eyes,” Monroe said.
The group spent months putting the documentary together.
The film is expected to debut in April.
The students are working on their second project.