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The Writing-Cute-Things... Issue

School's Out Forever

In the last half-century, Detroit lost more than half its population. Those leaving the city were mostly white people who fled to the suburbs.
JG
Κείμενο James Griffioen
02 Φεβρουάριος 2009, 12:00am

PHOTOS AND WORDS BY JAMES GRIFFIOEN

A school computer lab with relatively modern hardware. Thieves have removed any precious metals from the CPUs and monitors, rendering them worthless.

A school cafeteria trashed by vandals with hundreds of Styrofoam food trays (provided by the same school services company that was supposed to secure and remove supplies from this school).

“Living the Dream”. Several boxes of books commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. found in the Detroit Public Schools’ Roosevelt Warehouse, where tens of thousands of other textbooks and countless other supplies have sat rotting for more than two decades.

A box elder tree grows from a soil made of ash and pulp from science textbooks in the Detroit Public Schools’ Roosevelt Warehouse. A man’s body was discovered in a frozen lift shaft here. It is assumed he had been there for some months as his face had decomposed.

Photo documentation of fight injuries found in the principal’s office. The report in the student’s own handwriting says: “This is what I was at my locker and the 8th Grade Hall and so she came up to me and said you said you ain’t like me I said if I did what you gonna do about it then she hit me…”

The floor of the principal’s office was littered with reports of injuries to students resulting from accidents and conflicts with other students.

The floor of this school’s front office is littered with several decades’ worth of student records and report cards.

A rubbish bag in the principal’s office revealed files of evidence photos of items confiscated from students, in this case after a dice game.

Snow fills a former school library after vandals broke the floor-to-ceiling windows.

A school art classroom ransacked by vandals has cupboards and a closet still well-stocked with art supplies; the closet still had a six-foot pile of unused paper. Art programmes have been among the first cut by Detroit Public Schools under its current budget shortfall.

At the end of the 2007 school year, Jane Cooper Elementary (built in 1920) was left unsecured in the middle of the wasteland where a middle-class neighbourhood once stood. It took “scrappers” only a few months to strip the building of every last ounce of metal and leave it looking as though it hadn’t been occupied for decades.

This tiny box elder sapling took root in a pile of mouldy books and ash inside the former Detroit Public Schools book depository.