A couple weeks ago I received an e-mail from a producer at The Rachel Maddow Show asking me if I could take some pictures for a segment on that evening's show about the Catherine Ferguson Academy and its 2012 graduating class. A lot has been written about this school (documentaries have even been made about it), but basically it's a school for girls in Detroit who are either pregnant or already mothers. The school provides childcare and is located on an urban farm with a curriculum developed by science teacher Paul Weertz that brilliantly teaches the students how plants and animals grow on the farm while that new human life grows inside them. The school struggled last year with threatened closure by an emergency financial manager and was a frequent subject for Ms. Maddow on her television program. This year the class that wasn't even sure it would have a senior year was graduating, and I was honored with the opportunity to document that.

It was an emotional and powerful experience to see these young women celebrate the end of their high school career and hear them talk about all their challenges and hopes (all of them have applied for college and most hope to attend in the fall), and it was so amazing to see them celebrating with the families and friends who supported them while they navigated to difficulties of studying, working, and caring for their infant children while attending high school. This was also very humbling for me, especially because some of these graduates had children the same age as my youngest (while themselves young enough to be my own children). This has affected me more deeply than I would have expected. I struggle to write about how much I admire them.
So, congratulations to the Catherine Ferguson Academy's Class of 2012. The Rachel Maddow Show gave me permission to share some of the photos that didn't make the cut here.

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