SMP Photo Coach and ShootBack founder Lana Wong led authors on a photo shoot to create striking original images to complement their memoirs.
How To Grow Up Like Me: The Ballou Story Project
"Your Story is Your Strength"
This is the mantra that emerged from a six-month writing project at Ballou High School in Washington, DC, in which eleven dedicated freshmen and six determined seniors told their stories of ambition and struggle in what came to be known as The Ballou Story Project. The freshmen were students in AVID, a college-preparedness program, who gathered voluntarily every week at lunch-time to write and revise short personal stories about their lives. The seniors were some of Ballou’s esteemed student leaders who were crafting their college essays and wanted to share their stories with other aspiring change-makers. Together their poignant, powerful voices come together to tell a collective story of How To Grow Up Like Me, a kind of instruction manual for determination, grit, and daily acts of hope and courage.
This collection of memoirs does not shrink from hard truths. Authors write honestly about violence and loss, illness and pain, anger, defeat, broken promises, and longing. But they also write about love, and faith, and mentorship, and joy. Theirs are stories not of bitterness or blame, but of overcoming, of a daily and determined belief in oneself and in one’s possibility. Readers will leave this collection humbled and moved, and if you recognize yourself in these stories, we hope you will leave inspired.