De'Qonton Davis talks about the video he helped make highlighting school violence at John Hopkins Middle School
St. Petersburg, Florida - A local middle school plagued by violence is turning things around and students hope a video they produced helps repair their school's image.
The 7-minute video is featured on PBS's Student Reporting Labs website.
Scroll down to watch the video
The video begins with a YouTube clip of a fight at John Hopkins Middle School. We sat down with producer and Hopkins 8th grader De'Qonton Davis.
Why did you start this video with a fight between two girls on campus?
Because that's what everybody sees, that it's nothing but a fighting place," he replies.
"John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg, Florida has had 18 arrests so far this year for fighting and teacher battery."
That's De'Qonton's opening line to the video. It sets the stage for where the school violence is today, where it's been, how they are changing the culture. He speaks to a teacher who is assaulted by a student as she tries to break up a fight. The video features the school principal, the assistant principal who heads the magnet program, the school resource officer and a student who has been in several fights.
Why do they fight?
"Gangs, frustration, anger at home, parents not talking to them; they don't have somebody to talk to," answers De'Qonton.
"I just want to keep fighting, it's in my blood," one student says in the video.
De'Qonton says he made the video for the community as well as for parents and students.
"I walk home and I see people selling drugs, fighting, arguing doing stuff not suppose to be doing. You look over, you see your friends with the same people who are doing the bad stuff ... [students] see their friends going to jail or getting killed."
De'Qonton uses Nicholas Lindsey as an example, a former Hopkins student arrested for shooting and killing a St. Petersburg Police Officer. "He was a good student, did all his work. But at the same time, he had neighborhood drama."
Arrests are down at Hopkins as De'Qonton points out in the video. "Last year, John Hopkins reported 57 arrests -- about half the number from the year before. Arrest numbers continue to drop."
What's your message to parents?
"Parents, be involved with your kid's life, monitor what they are doing at school and you should have frequent conferences with their teacher see how they are doing."
"And what is your message to students?
"Stop fighting. Stop hanging around a bad influence and be yourself. Find you a goal in life and accomplish that goal."