Student Shares Experience Attending High School in America’s Fastest-Shrinking City

By Jane Smith
May 6, 2024

Pine Bluff, Arkansas

I grew up in a one-parent household, guided by a religious mother who instilled in me values of gratitude and community betterment.

Despite my fondness for social media, I acknowledge its negative portrayal of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, misleading many about our city’s challenges of crime and infrastructure decay.

However, this narrative lacks completeness and fails to highlight the efforts of residents, especially students, in revitalizing the community.

While my mother emphasized obedience, education, and safety, I encountered firsthand the harsh realities of bullying and violence in my high school years. Witnessing disrespect and fights among classmates, I understand the urgency for change.

John Thompson and Mom (Barbara) before Debutante Ball. (Calvin Thomas)

My election as president of the Pine Bluff High Student Council in 2023 marked a turning point. Teaming up with the Arkansas Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission, we organized campus events to combat bullying and foster unity. Through student agreements and a culture of reporting any misconduct, we successfully created a safer and more cohesive environment, leading to new friendships and accountability.

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