East Baltimore Community School; Jimmie Thomas and Clarice Griffin with students

HBCU students and alumni have rolled up their sleeves and began working on teaching the students of East Baltimore Community School a new approach to learning. Whether it be tap dancing, video production or learning about a new culture, East Baltimore Community School is doing things that no other school is.

Jimmie Thomas from Florida A&M University and Denise Parker from Coppin State University are the ones who led the charge in implementing new programs at East Baltimore Community School in video production. They are teaching the students how to make documentaries, about their school and their community.

The documentary is scheduled to air on December 20th at the American Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland. Howard University alumna Lisa Brown-Hall and University of Maryland College Park alumna Clarice Griffin were also instrumental in the success of the documentary as well.

“I think it has definitely had a positive impact on them”, Clarice Griffin said. “They got to utilize some skills that they never knew that they had.”

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said Jimmie Thomas. “My mission with this is to help the kids realize that this is something that they can do. What I’m doing to give back is helping these kids and showing them that, if you don’t like what’s on TV, you have the Web and can develop anything that you want to.”

When asked about the impact this documentary will have on the students, Thomas said, “It’s to let them know that they don’t have to be average, they can be great.”

“I feel that the children are going to lead the parents into thinking bigger and brighter, and believing that they do not have to be a product of their surroundings. They can build their surroundings up,” said Denise Parker.

Parker grew up in East Baltimore, and has remained loyal to her hometown to make a change in the Charm City. “I could have gone anywhere to live”, Parker said, “but I chose to live in the inner city because I felt I could make a difference. I know people invested in me as a child and I want to be able to give back.”

Another organization called Elev8 has stepped in to help teach the students about documentaries. Elev8 is an organization dedicated to helping middle school students in after school programs such as video production. They have programs established in Baltimore, Chicago, Oakland, and New Mexico designed to help middle school students succeed. Elev8 not only helps keep students enrolled in school, but they are also providing healthcare for the students.

Juanita Morgan, a senior at Morgan State University from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, loves working with Elev8 and helping the middle school students learn how to work with video equipment. She applauds Jimmie Thomas and Clarice Griffin for their patience with the students. “A lot of times adults are just ready to give up on them so quickly. I’ve noticed that people will start things with them but not finish or carry them through. I really respect their patience.” Morgan said. “I have a passion for TV and film production, and to see the kids engage and interested in it is great.”

Brandon Abel, a junior from Morgan State University, really enjoyed the documentary. “I thoroughly enjoyed the program. I think the kids learned a lot about video production, and how to conduct themselves in a professional way.”

The students’ enthusiasm can be seen in their performances in the afterschool program, which included tap dancing and a presentation of the documentary on East Baltimore Community School. There are great things happening at East Baltimore Community School, and HBCUBuzz will be in attendance for the documentary premiere at the American Brewery on December 20th. We insist that everyone come out and see what the students at East Baltimore Community School are doing.

Here is a teaser of the East Baltimore Community School documentary:


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