In my last blog post, I reported that the Wellston School District has been shut down and that Wellston students now attend Normandy schools. Before the school district closed, a group of students at Wellston’s high school – known most recently as Eskridge High School – worked with StudioSTL to document the history of the school and the Wellston community. Together, they created a series of videos about their lives in Wellston. KSDK produced a report on the video project.

Among the student-produced projects is a video telling the story of the Wellston/Normandy merger. Videos commemorating the original Wellston High School include “Wellston High Alumni” (Ashley Ambus, CJ Hall, Alexus Shockley) and “Remembering Old Wellston High” (CJ Hall). In other videos, Eskridge High School Principal Charles Shelton reflects on “What I’ll Miss” (Deanna Ivy, Demond Outlaw), and “Teach for America” teachers reflect on their experiences at Eskridge (Jennifer Simpson, Sharita Allred, Ashley Ambus). Extracurricular activities are also featured. “Mr. Crockett’s Blues” (Alonzo Davis, Ranise Baldwin) tells the story of Eskridge High’s music program, and two other videos – “This Is It: Basketball in Wellston” (Kevin MacLemore) and “The Albert Sisters” (Najae Jordan, Shandreyia Payne) – profile the school’s sports program.

“The Old Wellston Loop” (John Kennedy) reflects on the days when Wellston was a thriving transportation hub. Other videos tell the story of “Bada Bing Pizza & Wings” (Roderick Reed, Terrence Scott, Shanika Price, Javonte Scott) and “Clay’s Corner Store” (Alexis Cole, Kashonna McGee, Decarla Latchison).

Perhaps most compelling are the videos that describe everyday life in Wellston. Wellston community member “Stanley Dooley” (Cameshia Mays, Demond Outlaw, I’esha Davis, Tinesha McClemore) reflects on the difficulties of life in Wellston.

Alexus Shockley’s video poem opens with the lines:

People dying
Kids crying
Hearts breaking
Souls taking.

Later in the poem, she says,

Gang violence is all outsiders know
Caring and love they choose not to show. . . .
You watch the news – it’s just bad things
They look down on us and crush our dreams.

Similarly, Jamie Davis’s video poem, “A Typical Day in Wellston,” talks about the harsh living conditions in her community:

Wind blowing, felt as if a tornado came upon me
Ears red, frostbit fingertips, and the worst – teary eyes
Having questions flowing through the wind
What’s wrong?
Have you been crying?

She compares her school bus to “a slave ship in the old days.” Her poem ends:

Thoughts so familiar, conversations so old
But we never seem to look beyond what we’re told.

The piece that stays with me, however, is “The Streets of Wellston,” a rap by 15-year-old Antonio “Eagle I” Pulliam (you can watch the video below). His piece goes like this:

I grew up out here in Wellston
Middle of the city
Plus I been through hard times
So you can’t show me no pity
Now the things are busting up
And the state gave us no pennies
Acting like they care for us
They should have won the Emmy
Kids in the fast lane
Moving like the Indy
Blowing all their future plans
And getting kind of windy
Make it out the slums
Man, I know I got it in me . . . .

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2 Comments on Remembering Wellston’s High School, Part 2

  1. Dave Hoffman says:

    This is so cool; I’m so proud that students took ownership of this. What a wonderful way to document the past and encourage and inspire students to see the value in it. Thanks for sharing their work!

  2. Beth Ketcher says:

    Hi, I am the Director of StudioSTL. I am just finding your wonderful blog! Thank you so much for highlighting the Wellston writers’ video stories. Their year-long project won an award at the Cinema St. Louis Film Showcase. They are dedicated to their community, and we could not be more proud of their video stories. All of the videos are posted on Again, thank you for this terrific blog. Beth Ketcher