From Richigail's personal blog - republished with her permission.

First, I am pleased and honored to announce that I won the first round of Project Report. Yes, I’m one of the ten semi-finalists!

And for the 2nd Round, the Grand Finals, the assignment is to cover something that the mainstream media has not covered yet, or often overlooked. No doubt I know the kids in Oakland are always overlooked. Sure, I would see and hear their stories in the news, but it was never in-depth, especially recently, when three Oakland high schools are being threatened to shut down because of low test scores and high drop out rates. In fact those three schools ranked some of the lowest performing in the state. I thought to myself, no one has really asked what’s behind those poor results.

Finding the right topic came easy, but finding the right people to be in it, is probably the most challenging endeavor I have ever done. Understandably, the topic is complicated and senstive, so parents, educators and social workers would be over protective of their youth. But damn, it was really hard to get somebody, especially a youth, and without a youth, there’s no story because it’s about them. I was almost ready to give up and ready to find another topic, but I decided to stay persistent.

The easiest person to approach was a volunteer teacher in East Oakland, but aside from that, I had to scout and pay my dues. I was at the mercy of my subjects and potential subjects. Some of them would entertain the idea of being interviewed, and the next thing you know, they’ll pull out, the last minute. Then there were those you thought would never call back and would go for it, yes, the last minute. It was like a rollercoaster ride, one day I was beaming with excited, the next heartbroken, then excited again.

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