This Fall Samy’s Camera Outreach was delighted to offer a semester photography course at South LA’s Holy Name of Jesus School free of charge. 

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Credit: Samy’s Outreach

Holy Name of Jesus parish has a long, rich history beginning in 1912.  The parochial school was established in 1924 to provide quality Catholic education for the children of Jefferson Park – a community impacted by poverty, crime, and historically low graduation rates (LMU).  Father Stanley says, “for over 90 years [The Holy Name of Jesus School] has tirelessly worked to eliminate the conditions which contribute to persistent poverty in our world.” 

The Holy Name of Jesus School boasts an impressive 95% of their students going on to college.  Dedicated Principal Marva Belisle and her team achieve this feat by offering a comprehensive curriculum – music, art, physical education, religion, language arts, math, science, social studies, and technology – to fulfill the school’s stated mission of reducing the inequity in educational opportunity for economically disadvantaged children.  The school proudly enjoys a modern computer lab, several extracurricular activities, and a special partnership with Loyola Marymount University that integrates online learning with traditional student-teacher instruction.

Principal Belisle believes strongly in educating children to “become academically competent and active life-long learners who will be productive individuals in contemporary society.”  Here at Samy’s Camera, we believe in the role of arts education in achieving this goal.  Photography in particular gives young people a voice, a vehicle for change, and an invaluable tool to document their life.  

Plus, of course – photography is FUN.  

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Credit: Samy’s Outreach

With all of these goals in mind, it was a joy to watch the students work their way through the curriculum – trying their hands as food bloggers, photojournalists, sports, and fashion photographers.  This was one of the most motivated, enthusiastic classes of students I’ve ever taught.  Their dedication to their learning and craft produced beautiful work I hope they are as proud of as their teacher is! 

Graduation was tons of fun, letting us shower the students in much-deserved accolades.  They received their diplomas, watched a slideshow and spoke eloquently about their gallery show prints in turn.  

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Credit: Samy’s Outreach

At the conclusion, the students surprised me with handmade cards and gifts for my baby… making a pregnant lady cry!  I am so touched and grateful for the opportunity to work with these amazing students, teachers, and principal.  Thank you!

A unique aspect of teaching this course was discovering that this class of students will go on to become the school’s official photographers.  Under staff supervision, they will be responsible for taking the photos for the school’s professional newsletter.  To support this very important role, Samy’s Camera donated a camera for the students to use.

A special thanks to Principal Belisle and Scott Montgomery for helping to bring Samy’s Camera Outreach to the wonderful Holy Name of Jesus School, and for their immense support and kindness.

I couldn’t be prouder of the work the students have done.  I hope they will continue with their art and use it to share their voice and perspective with the world.  

I know they will do a stellar job in their esteemed role as school photographers.

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