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How Did This High School Student Go From Being Suspended 20 Times to Graduating Valedictorian?

Resource type: News

The Nation | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

High school student Damon Smith had been suspended more than 20 times before entering Ralph Bunche High School in Oakland, an alternative high school for chronically expelled students. After working with Eric Butler, a restorative justice counselor at the school, Damon left behind the gang violence he had been embroiled in, earned a 3.7 GPA and graduated valedictorian in his class.

How did it happen? This new video produced by Storycorps and The Atlantic Philanthropies tells Smith’s story of his struggle between realizing his true potential academically or falling back into the street violence of his hometown.

Learn More

Dignity in Schools Campaign works to end school pushout and support alternatives to zero tolerance discipline policies.

> Visit Dignity in Schools Campaign website

> Read more about restorative justice in Oakland schools

Dignity in Schools Campaign is a grantee (via a re-grant from National Economic and Social Rights Initiative) of Atlantic’s Children & Youth programme in the United States, which funds efforts to reform school discipline policies.