OPB has premiered a new documentary that follows a group of Oregon students as they navigate the challenges of high school and offers a peek into the world of teenage life.
“Class of 2025: Sophomore Year” explores how some students – who have less than two years until they’re expected to graduate – wrestle with their physical and mental health, along with doubts and worries about their future. They do this while learning some difficult life lessons: from the consequences of missing school to the departure of beloved teachers and more.
It is part of OPB’s long running “Class of 2025″ multimedia reporting series, which began in 2012. The project began as an attempt to track the state of Oregon’s ambitious goal that starting with the Class of 2025, all students would complete high school and earn diplomas or the equivalent. The series explores the key question of high school: can supportive teachers, engaging activities and high expectations overcome barriers to graduation?
Over the last 10 years, OPB has been following a group of 27 students who started together at Earl Boyles Elementary School in the David Douglas School District in Southeast Portland. OPB reporters have been embedded with the students, documenting their educational journey toward high school and tracking their real-life successes and setbacks along the way.
Last spring, the students completed their sophomore year. It was challenging for many of them. The teens emerged from the disruptions of the pandemic but had to soon grapple with big questions around college, career and their looming lives as adults. The school year was only made more intense by educators setting higher and higher expectations of them.
“Class of 2025: Sophomore Year” examines the teens’ real-life challenges that have impacted their path toward graduation and adulthood. Some had problems at school that made them less inclined to show up, whether it was everyday high school conflicts or the unexpected departure of a special teacher. Others had health problems or deep, emotional losses.
Made possible by the generous support of OPB members, the documentary is produced and directed by Kate McMahon and OPB education reporter Elizabeth Miller. It was edited by Dan Evans, and Emily Hamilton provided graphics and animation. The senior producer and creator of the Class of 2025 project is Rob Manning.
More information about OPB’s “Class of 2025″ multimedia series – including news reporting, student profiles, podcast episodes, videos and photos – is available at opb.org.