At the first day assembly, the freshman seem confused and nervous while the seniors are boisterous and confident. It's exactly the kind of first day stuff you'd expect at any school. Until Harper Principal Leonetta Sanders calls for a moment of silence to honor the students Harper has lost in the last year. Then Harper doesn't seem so ordinary. In the clean and orderly halls of Harper, we meet the staff as they shepherd the students through new schedules and rules while they also try to reassure parents about the frightening rise in shootings in the neighborhood. (7 minutes)
By early October, it's been pretty quiet at Harper, as far as gun violence goes. But on the day before the homecoming game, during a pep rally, a senior named Damoni who is both on the football team and nominated for Homecoming King, gets word that a good friend of his, James, has been shot. James is also a former Harper student with many ties to the school. Reporter Ben Calhoun follows Principal Sanders and the rest of the Harper staff as they jump into action and try to ward off more violence, keep the students safe and grapple with whether they need to cancel the Harper High School Homecoming. (18 minutes)
Theme music for our two-part series on Harper High School was composed by The Latebloomer. Hear the original.
Update 4/2013: First Lady Michelle Obama to visit Harper High School
Update 7/2013: Harper Student Murdered