H.D. Woodson

Ward 7, Washington, D.C.
Dates Of Project: 
1/2012 - 6/2012
American history class

Are schools welcoming environments for D.C. youth?

Our students at H.D. Woodson SHS are in the midst of their campaign to implement restorative justice at their school. They’re working with teachers in the school who are committed to ending school push-out at Woodson. Our students have shared stories about how out-of-school suspensions significantly impact their learning and alienate them from their school community. The students documented their experiences being suspended for minor infractions such as being late to class or out of uniform.

Our students at Woodson refute the claim that Black drop out of school because of disinterest in their education. The investment that our students have put into their campaign proves that students are committed to their education, and that with supportive adults youth can mold their schools into empowering learning environments.

Critical Exposure worked with two 11th-grade American history classes at H.D. Woodson Senior High School in Ward 7 of Washington, D.C in Spring 2012. As students learned about economic divisions and social justice struggles throughout American history, Critical Exposure trained the youth in photography so that they document their experiences as young people in the District today. They gained an education in local politics and social issues, students also developed strategies to fight for meaningful change in their community, using photography and writing as creative tools of self-expression and self-advocacy.

They used their newfound skills to document issues that affect students and negatively impact the District's high school graudation rate, including zero-policy discipline policies. Students advocated to end their zero-tolerance discipline policy. Zero-tolerance policies punish students harshly for minor infractions. At H.D. Woodson, students were being suspended at alarmingly high rates for minor issues such as being late to class or being out of uniform.

After our students met with the school's Dean of Students to suggest alternatives to the zero-tolerance policy, the school established a Twilight program so that struggling students would get individualized attention from teachers rather than being sent home.

Watch this video to hear about the campaign from a students' point of view!

Mike, HD Woodson & Critical Exposure from Critical Exposure on Vimeo.

Mike speaks about his involvement with Critical Exposure at HD Woodson High School in D.C. Mike and his classmates successfully self-advocated to eliminate his school's zero-tolerance policy using photography.

Stone Soup, a 501(c)(3) production company that creates and donates quality promotional films for worthy non-profits in Washington, D.C. in order to enhance their visibility among donors, constituents, and the general public, generously created this film.