At Bryan Station High School’s graduation Thursday, a video produced by students called Defending Station was played in Rupp Arena.
The student filmmakers said they addressed, head on, what they said is the community’s unfair negative perception of the school.
The Kentucky Department of Education no longer classifies the high school as “persistently low achieving,” academics are improving, special programs are strong and the state’s latest criticism in a review is aimed not at the school but at the district for not supporting the school more. School officials say they have no more fights than at other schools, but the community perception is bad because local journalists unfairly focus negative attention on Bryan Station.
In the video, Glenn Jones, a 1966 graduate and president of the alumni association, talks as the camera is aimed on photos of distinguished graduates including former mayors and a judge.
“When you live in a low-income area, people have a tendency to hold you down and not try to help you up,“ he said.
Jones said news crews covering the school have helped create a bad reputation.
Girls basketball coach Shawn Ransom said in the video, which is less than 10 minutes long, that he thinks Bryan Station gets a “bad rap.”
“When people talk negative about Bryan Station it’s probably because they are not here in the fire with us to understand the type of kids we have,” Ransom said. “We have great kids.”
“The ones that are speaking bad about Bryan Station, they really need to change their outlook.”
Principal James McMillin said “we truly are the diamond in the rough.”
“Everything we have to offer kids is unbelievable. We truly have one of the best high schools in the state. The problem is convincing the kids that we have it.”
“We are defending our image ... our values,” alumni and traditions, said McMillin.
Brian Springate, the CEO of Fleming County Hospital and an alumnus, said in the film that “it’s completely unfair” that Bryan Station gets a bad reputation when there are the same problems at every school.
Everything we have to offer kids is unbelievable. We truly have one of the best high schools in the state. The problem is convincing the kids that we have it.
Principal James McMillin
Heather Eppley, director of the school’s IT Academy, said “things that happen here happen at every high school. But I think it gets blown out of proportion because there is already a spotlight on us in terms of behavior, in terms of academics, in terms of socioeconomic status. I think that makes it harder to combat the media’s negative image.”
Mahari Sturgis, senior class president, said in the film, “People only come around when something bad happens.”
Tina Thomas, whose son worked on the video project, said there was a great response from the crowd after the video played.
“The school has been labeled and it’s been labeled for years,” Thomas said. She said she’s hoping the film will change the community’s perspective and potential students’ perspective.
Student Andrew Cottle came up with idea for the film and was the cinematographer.
Student Jared Maloney, the director, carried out the vision, the boys said.
Houston Thomas said he put it all together as editor and co-director.
“I hope that it puts the school in a good light,” said Maloney.
Houston said he hopes the video gives students from other schools a better impression of Bryan Station High as well as parents who might be wondering where to send their child to high school. He said going to Bryan Station’s IT Academy was the “best experience I ever had.”
Cottle said he wants people to know “how good of a school we really are.”