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Petersburg Rising documentary shines light on city’s good side

PETERSURG, Va. — Petersburg Rising. It’s more than a catchy title. For students, parents, school, and city leaders, it’s what they want the world to know about the positive things going on in the city and the school system. Superintendent Dr. Marcus Newsome and former Petersburg High student Lekayla Harvey believe there are positive strides being made in the school system, even on the heels of difficult financial times for the city.

“There are challenges, but because of the courage of many leaders and citizens and our young people, they’re able to overcome those challenges,” Dr. Newsome said.

Many students not only overcome difficult circumstances, but achieve great things, he said. Those great things often fly under the radar and away from the public eye.

One example, shown in the documentary Petersburg Rising, is the challenge that was put to students to write an educational grant. The end result? The students were able to secure $100,000 for the school system.

Dr. Newsome and Harvey are just two people featured in Petersburg Rising. The project was shot during the course of the last year by filmmakers from New York. They spent time tracking the activity of four different Petersburg High School students. Harvey said she was honored to be chosen as one of the documentary’s subjects.

Harvey got a chance to share up close and personal aspects of her daily life as a Petersburg High School student. That included her goals of going to college and becoming a nurse.

“I like taking care of other people. Just to know they’re okay. It is what I’ve always wanted to do,” Harvey explained.

The documentary culminated in the recent Petersburg High School graduation. Cameras were rolling when Harvey proudly earned her diploma.

“You can get far with an education. People can take a lot from you, but they can’t take your education,” Harvey said.

As for Dr. Newsome who will soon step down from the helm of the Petersburg Public Schools, he said he’s proud of the work he’s seen students achieve during his tenure.

“I want people to know you can rise from the depths of despair and celebrate the good, the victory of the human spirit when people work together,” Dr. Newsome added.

So far, Petersburg Rising has collected about $100,000 in donations and in-kind support. That included a recent $10,000 donation from the owner of Challenge U, the dropout recovery program now in Petersburg, reaching out to students, providing them with an online opportunity to earn their diplomas.

The Petersburg Rising project still needs help raising the remaining $100,000 or so to complete and distribute the documentary.

The goal is to reach 20,000,000 viewers. Click here to see a preview of the full-length documentary. Donations can also be made via the website or sent to:

The Petersburg Foundation
P.O. Box 928
Petersburg, Va.
23804-0928

You’re asked to write “Petersburg Rising” in the memo line.

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