Breaking Down Barriers
Though most Monroe students think they know Riley, one of the "popular" students, he leaves his label at the door and opens up about a time when he wasn't so popular. "I grew up really overweight, and my mom and dad really put a lot of pressure on me to lose the weight," he says.
Then, Riley dispels a common belief that popular kids have it easy. "A lot of people judge me as somebody who has a lot of money, when in actuality, my mom is working two jobs and we're barely making it," he says. "People always place judgment on me [and] think I'm some rich, spoiled kid. I'm really not."
Ra'Shada, one of the teens labeled a "smart kid," admits that she lies about her test scores. "[My score] is a lot lower than what I say...I'm afraid that people won't think I'm smart anymore if I tell them the real score," she says.
Charles, one of Monroe High's "rich kids," says being wealthy may mean that his college tuition is paid in full, but no amount of money can protect him from his hidden pain. He reveals that after his father left his mother, his mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. "Every night, I [cry] myself to sleep, but I'll never let anyone see it," he says. "Every day I wake up, I'm scared. I'm scared where my life is going."