The crowd was electric at the graduation ceremony at Decatur High School last Friday. Parents, siblings, friends and extended family members of the 2013 graduates were packed like sardines on the bleachers of the football stadium. Although a request was made to the audience to stay seated and refrain from shouting out until all the graduate’s names were called, folks could not contain their elation and jumped out of their seats with pure joy when their loved ones marched across the stage. As I have reflected upon this night, I can understand why the emotions were so charged. Decatur High is a Title I school meaning that they receive additional funds to meet the needs of at-risk and low-income students. Decatur High, a school for white students up until the end of Jim Crow segregation, is proud of its diversity and can boast a 90% four-year graduation rate. In 2012, 87% of the graduates attended four-year colleges. For all of us in attendance, this night was a reminder of how far we have come as a society in accepting those with differences but also a testament to what happens when dedicated, hard-working teachers set high expectations for all students coupled with the support of parents and community. I speak from the heart because my daughter, Christine, who has a disability, was one of the at-risk students who graduated that night.
Last Saturday, my son’s travel ball team opened their season in McDonough, just southeast of Atlanta. As I sat on the bleachers watching my son’s team play, I was distracted by the group of boys sitting next to me awaiting their turn to play the winners. Although they managed to catch an occasional glimpse of the game being played on the field, they were entranced and captivated with their cell phones. A recent Time article about Millennials (the generation of teens through 20-somethings), stated that kids receive an average of 88 texts a day. They are interacting all day with their peers but mostly through a screen. In my attempt to distract the boys from their phones I asked them what positions they played. One ball player told me, “I pitch and play outfield. I prefer outfield though because I don’t have to work as hard.” It made me wonder if his preference to be in the outfield, farther from the watchful eyes of the umpire and coaches, was so he could secretly check his cell phone for messages. Millennials are always anxious that they might be missing out on something better. Seventy percent check their phones hourly. As for me, I only checked my phone between innings.
On Sunday, Atlanta was blessed with a reprieve from the rain and cool weather for a of couple hours in the middle of the afternoon. People flocked to Piedmont Park in Midtown to bask in the sunshine before the predicted rain returned. As I was photographing the people playing volleyball, Stephanie wandered into the scene with her pink hula hoop. Memories from my childhood washed over me as I recalled the magic of this simple, circular toy.
This month’s features in South x Southeast Photomagazine showcase street photography and still lifes. I am honored to have been chosen to show a collection of my street photography images I created in Syros, Greece. They have laid dormant in my computer since I downloaded the images in 2011 so I am grateful to have the opportunity to share a part of my heritage with all of you. If you have a subscription to South x Southeast you may view the current issue at http://www.sxsemagazine.com/ or you may view my images from Greece on my website at http://beatesass.com in the portfolio Discovering Syros.