Filmmaker Jason Pollock helped honor Arapahoe Community College’s standout students by showing them the stories of kids who are struggling to find the same success.
“I think society needs to redefine what heroes are, and it’s not just rappers and athletes. I think it’s these kids,” he told the audience before showing them his documentary “Undroppable,” which earned him the ACC Foundation’s Promoting the Power of Education Award. He was the keynote speaker at the foundation’s annual scholarship luncheon on May 1, held to honor the 54 recipients.
Pollock set out to highlight the importance of supporting education at all costs by letting people see into the world of the kids who need it. The film features high-schoolers from across the country just simply talking, describing their lives, their heartaches, their goals, their hopes.
“I want better for my daughter, so I push myself.”
“Mom, why do I have to go to school if you didn’t finish?”
“You can’t raise a child being a dropout.”
Pollock is proud to present kids’ lives in their own words, in an unbiased and nonpartisan way.
“Let’s pull on people’s heartstrings and give them a hug, not point fingers at them and slap them in the face,” he told the audience, which included community leaders, students and staff.
He praised community colleges like ACC, saying they’re vital in saving some of these kids. He noted that some freshmen aren’t prepared for college by their public-school system, so two-year colleges can help them get ready to pursue further education.
“You guys are soldiers at the front of a war zone that people don’t even want to admit exists,” he said.
Pollock has worked with familiar names like Ashton Kutcher, Michael Moore, Harpo Productions and Rock the Vote, and PC Magazine calls him one of the top 10 people to follow on Twitter.
He first became interested in education while filming “The Youngest Candidate,” in which he chronicled the lives of four teens who were running for office. He heard things from kids along that way that scared him — apathy and hopelessness, in particular.
He decided to go into the schools, sit down with a kid and a camera and just listen. Then he gave them a forum to be heard on social media, where he can continually update “Undroppable” with new voices and faces. Today he has more than 116,000 followers on Facebook, and more than 101,000 on Twitter.
He says “Undroppable” is his way of not just helping education, but the economy as well. By featuring teens who have succeeded against all odds, he hopes to help others realize they can be productive members of society with some hard work and determination.
Pollock said things like bullying and suicide are mitigated as kids tell their stories to each other.
“The more we know about each other, the easier it is to be compassionate,” he said.