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tonight on "nightline", they call it a dangerous school. >> we must save the children. in your name, amen. >> for teachers and students just making it through the day can be a battle. tonight, a high school months away from shutting its doors forever and the school principal determined to keep them open. >> somebody besides me actually does care. >> fear and hope. abc's diane sawyer's story that changed everything. from all over the country, your overwhelming support, and one surprising celebrity who took the message to heart. >> i caught the piece that diane did. a huge spark lit in me that night. >> grammy award winning artist, drake, with a gift that shocked them all.
>> this is about you, this is about your principal, this is about your future. >> but the battle isn't over yet. just another year at strawberry mansion. >> this special edition of "nightline," tears to triumph, ♪ i love it! ♪ thank you grandma for the dolls. ♪ ♪ i love it! ♪ i'm ninja kicking through the halls. ♪ ♪ i love it! ♪ mom's posting pictures on your wall. ♪ ♪ that's my kind of holiday.
♪ i picked it out in a snap ♪ what made it genius ♪ was my camouflage wrap ♪ that's my kind of holiday this is a special "nightline." two years strawberry hill. >> switch blades and fistfights a daily concern at strawberry mansion high school on the brink of closure with the clock ticking. as teachers and students struggle to save the school, abc news was there with extraordinary access over two school years. tonight, thanks to our viewers, we are back with the outcome that astonished us all. abc's diane sawyer takes you inside for ou latest edition of
"hidden america." >> morning begins at strawberry mansion high school with a prayer. >> we must see the children be in your name, amen. >> amen. >> security guards take their post to watch for razor blades and tin foil. knives and back packs. vaseline on faces used to prevent scratches in a fight. a school of 464 kids. a lot of them want to learn. a lot of them on a hair trigger. >> this is a dangerous school. a lot of fights for nothing. so you got to be safe. >> for five years running, mansion as the students call it, was considered one of the most dangerous schools in america. and our cameras were allowed inside. linda was the fourth principal for mansion in the same number of years. >> each day gets scarier. >> before coming to mansion, she
was an assistant superintendent in the disstrict. >> i could not find a principal who was suitable it handle this. so therefore, i said to myself, because i love these students dearly, i will just volunteer to be the principal. >> she is on a mission to turn the school around and make it safer. in the middle of a city wide budget crisis, she had just a few months to save it from being closed. she is always on edge. especially at lunch time as the entire school is in one room. >> i know that if they outnumber me, i don't know if i have enough manpower to bring them down. >> suddenly a fight between two girls, buzz one spit on the other the day before. rushing in to break it up. >> take a deep breath. take a deep breath. >> by wait, during the may hem,
one of the students steps in to protect me. >> we want to protect diane. >> reinforcing the need for strict order. so principal wayman was doing something never done before, enforcing a dress code. and it is not about grooming, but safety. no group because groups can be used be a and no hoodies. >> you can't identify anyone walking through cameras. >> she made sure security cameras were fixtures all over the school. >> 94. >> 94 cameras here and we need more. we always have to outthink them. because they are trying to outthink us. >> principal wayman had to worry not just about the student safety but her own. a student threatened her life. >> to me saying i have a bullet with your name on it. >> in the neighborhood where 40% of the people live in poverty. highest number of homicide, rapes and assaults in the city. these are the kids in the
honor's program at mansion. for many, it is tough at home. >> i don't dream. my hope is i know -- well, i see ain't nothing going to change about this school or this neighborhood. >> for every student who causes trouble, there are so many who just wanted to learn. like a small quiet girl named malaysia. she was in the ninth grade. malaysia wanted to make her dad proud. she lives around the corner from mansion and tried hard to stay on track. but it wasn't easy. one day, after school, she gets punched in the face by another girl. >> busted up pretty good. >> malaysia worries that even though she says she had nothing to do with it, principal wayman who has strict rules will suspend her for fighting. >> i don't want to get suspended. because that will make my grade go down. >> later i check in with malaysia. >> it is better. just this little sore. >> are you scared? >> of fighting. >> sometimes of coming to school. >> yeah.
>> because i'm little. >> little like rezack. >> how do you protect yourself at schools i use my words. for exam will, if someone says, i want it fight you, i say, i don't want to get suspended. i don't try to be big. i don't try to be anything. i just try to be myself. >> he is also in the ninth grade. he tries to show up at school everyday. even though he shoulders a lot of responsibility at home. >> i'm the only man in the home. >> what are your favorite subjects. >> chemistry. i like learning about the atoms and periodic table. >> his pride, junior military uniform he carefully lays out on the chair. >> how tall are you? >> 5'9". >> wow. >> how tall are you? >> 5 foot. >> you'll be here. you'll so be here. >> i hope so. >> back at school, parent/teacher conference day. >> i'm just curious, how many
parents have you had come the last two days. >> this is the first parent i saw so far. >> really? >> yeah. >> out of his 70 students, malaysia's dad is the only parent who shows up. he knows she is distracted by the chaos at school. but her grades are slipping. he works in construction and just wants her to have more in life. >> i got to make money with my hands. why don't you make it with your brain. you understand? >> and interethere were so many students in this school who simply wanted something better. take a look at the mansion version of "glee." they had no music teacher. a student just did what he could. by the end of the school year, wayman saved the school from closure and 65 out of 92 seniors were accepted to college. double than years past. but that wasn't enough. they couldn't afford the deposit
fees to get into the school they love. like senior christine holland who is not able to go to philadelphia university. >> if i had $550 to go to the philadelphia university, i would have gone. >> for a moment, the unbreakable principal gives in to tears. as the school year ends -- >> if nobody told you they loved you today, you remember i do. >> principal wayman braces for another year. fewer teachers, less money, less security. but when we come back -- >> i missed you. >> i missed you too. two of my favorite people in the world. >> possibility. >> changed because of you. >> we wanted to come down and offer you the opportunity to study with us for the next four years. >> oh, look at that, girl. ♪
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and we are back at strawberry mansion where just last year the threat of violence overshadowed the promise of education. now, a new school year is under way with new hope, thanks to diane sawyer's reporting and your generosity. plus, a little extra help from a surprising celebrity source. >> a new school year at the strawberry mansion. >> i'm like really excited. >> a fresh start.
it's the first day and this year students are including a little order of their own. asking for school uniforms. uniforms in part paid for by you, abc viewers. >> i missed you. >> i missed you too. >> two of my favorite people in the world. >> a familiar voice. principal wayman back for her second year at strawberry mansion. >> i am the bell. i'm the bell. it is now time to transition. bing. and she has done something extraordinary. for the first time in six years -- let's go, move! the school is no longer considered one of the country's most dangerous. through sheer force of will, the principal cut the incidents nearly in half. and your wave of generosity helped breath new life into the school. >> just when i really did think
that there was no hope in america, and then you all aired this special. geez. i never felt such joy in my life. when the phone started ringing and somebody noticed that we are at least trying to make it right. oh, my god. somebody besides me actually did care. >> viewers helped provide 13 scholarships for seniors heading off to college. remember christine holland who couldn't afford the deposit fee at the school of her dreams? >> we wanted to come down and offer you the opportunity to study with us and give you a scholarship to be able to come here. >> the university is giving her full and free tuition. >> oh, look at that, girl. >> and strawberry mansion, you covered a lot of basic necessities that are a given at most american schools. like books for classes. calculators.
note books. but as we follow the first few months of the school, we are reminded that in some ways, it is so close to the edge. at times there are still brutal fights, like this one which made its way it youtube. by the way, take a lock at girl being hit. she is the same young woman who stepped in when i was there to try to protect me. and this year the school is trying to move forward despite city-wide budget cuts. remember those endless hallways? a lot fewer guards and police. they feel deserted. >> what happened to your security. >> they got laid off. i had 17 last year. this year i have five. so therefore, that's all i can do is walk. you know when they are revved up. that's what i worry about.
>> class size double. outside the classroom, if there is one thing that symbolized what happened at this school, it is this. for 6 2 years the school could only dream of its own football team. but tonight, meet the strawberry mansion knights. >> we lobbied. got a petition signed. >> this remind people that we're here. we're legitimate. we're still a school. we're still running. and we still have a lot to offer. >> the knights already underdogs with their quarterback suspended. owens steps in to save the day. the game, a blow-out. >> our quarterback, i stepped up today. >> 40-0. >> yeah! >> this cheer is called "work it." work it, work it, eh. >> and someone is cheering them on. though from the sidelines. remember malaysia? she is not on the cheer leading
team because she got into a fight after school. >> there are rules to this, in philadelphia. you don't survive with your fist in the neighborhood. the only way you are going to survive it is to get out of there and think. >> but she is back on track in the 10th grade and doing well in her studies. what about lazack? he is a bit taller now. 5'2" and a bit more confident thanks to his new hobby. >> well, most of the people in there have years of experience. and i had to learn really quick. >> but that is not going to deter you? >> not really. i like it. >> and a surprise. zach moved in with his father, living outside of philadelphia but still missing strawberry mansion. >> i wish i could go to strawberry mansion again. >> and even though he is no longer her student, principal wayman, eyes and ears everywhere, continues to be his mentor. >> how does it make you feel
that miss wayman is still involved. >> that means a lot to me. even though she has a lot of students in her school, she still took time-out to worry about a student that is not in her school. >> you doing your work? >> yes. >> on paper? >> yes. >> she is worried that he is at another crossroads. >> i don't like school. >> you don't like school? >> no. >> but what are you going to do if you don't go to school? >> can't do nothing. >> can't do nothing. so there's two places to go. to prison where you don't have to think. and military. >> a message about reality. and it resonates outside her world, inspiring some unfor seen supporters to join her cause.se supporters to join her cause.esn supporters to join her cause. a few months ago, drake, grammy award winning hip-hop artist,
showed up to surprise the students. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> i caught the piece that diane did. by the end of it, i was so heavily affected, i started questioning like major aspects of my life. >> i'm going to be here, i promise. i gotcha. >> i'm building a recording studio inside this school. this is about you, this is about your principal, this is about your future. i love you. i care about you. i want to see you succeed. >> and another symbol for the students at strawberry mansion. today is the last game of the season. and the mansion knights, so far undefeated. >> i'm proud. i'm happy. >> that's my son, number 9! >> the knights end the season just as they began. >> celebrating.
>> what are we? >> we're undefeated. >> undefeated. >> undefeated. first season. >> with this community and this school, we get into victories. we don't win anything. i might not be able to get them into harvard. i may not, you know, be able to give them anything about -- but i can give them hope. god don't underestimate the power of hope. when children have hope, they can succeed. >> and when we come back, principal wayman learns just how far her message of hope has traveled. and to keep our commitments. and we've made a big commitment to america. bp supports nearly 250,000 jobs here. through all of our energy operations, we invest more in the u.s. than any other place in the world. in fact, we've invested over $55 billion here
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for principal wayman, no success could be sweeter than the success of her students. with violence down and graduation rates up, it is no surprise her name traveled further than even she could ever have dreamed. >> principal wayman's message of hope resonates even outside the hard streets of north philadelphia. >> this nation must invest in the education for all its children. >> last month at pennsylvania conference for women, speaking to an audience of more than 6,000, she was a keynote alongside hillary clinton. >> i want to give her another round of applause for doing a great job of anyone, a principal. >> her speech was electrifying. >> restoring hope and giving students the sense that anything is possible became my primary