WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- You can call it a failure of our school system, a 17 year old high school senior living in poverty stricken ward 8, just learning how to read for the first time. "I was in a state of shock...a dozen kids reading at a low lever 3rd grade or less that that," said Paul Penniman, Executive Director of Resources for Inner City Children (RICH). About a year and a half ago, the non profit group moved in to tutor students at Anacostia High School, turning grades and lives around - including Christian Hall's.
"You can't put a price tag on this type of reward," Penniman said as fighting back tears. "Christian believed in himself and every adult in this building (Anacostia High School) supported him," said Anacostia principal Dr. Ian Roberts Christian is now set to graduate from Anacostia High, where he's had perfect attendance at a school struggling to fill most classroom seats. But his journey to theclassroom desk andhis future goals has not been an easy one.
Christian is from one of Anacostia's most notorious neighborhoods, nicknamed 24th and bang-bang. "Do you like being back in the old neighborhood," I ask. "no, there's no positive energy around her," he responded. Christian and the eight members of his family lived together. His father smoked crack in house, his brother consistently stole from him. Although those issues still remain, they left the neighborhood under threat of their lives. the family bounced around among several different hotels before relocating. It is safer now, but by no means a positive family environment. His father - still smoking crack, his brother - still stealing.
"is that hard to talk about?," I ask. "Yes," he responds. "Is it still happening?," I ask. "Yes." "Does it make home uncomfortable for you?" "Yes, sometimes but I don't let it get to me because I won't be around it forever," "But that's your family," I respond. "Yes, but some people love their family from a distance."
It costs $5-$7,000 to tutor a child like Christian for 2 years. But high school drop outs cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars each year in welfare, non-taxable income, even prison costs.
The local non profit group, RICH, receives no federal or local funding and relies solely on donations. Click here if you'd more information on how you can help.