Designer Elaine Griffin with three of Hope Leadership Academy's leaders of tomorrow, Shauntrelle Conde, her brother Darrell Conde and Rashida Davis

Photo Michel Arnaud, styling Mia Morgan, hair Tim Johnson

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Darrell, one of HLA's leaders of tomorrow, sees the new digs as a refuge from a world that often reacts to his surface rather than his content. "Once you hit 14," he says, "you start to notice the elderly change toward you. I became bad just because I hit that age, but I was still the same kid. Older women who used to say hello wouldn't let me in the door of my building anymore."

For Danny Morris, HLA's director, the teenagers' response to the revamped room is written on their faces, their bodies. "You'll see their body language change as they come in the door," he says of the kids. "Their spines straighten."
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