story by Connor Choate
Walking into the building feels like walking into a correctional facility. The walls are plain, with holes cut in the top of the drywall so students in each room can hear students in other rooms. Cameras watch every move. Adjacent to each classroom are “time out” rooms, which are more like solitary confinement.
This is Central Academy, a school for students who have been in various degrees of trouble, suffer severe learning disorders, or are otherwise not typically developing. “Everyone is scared of these students,” says Vice Principal Zack Windell. “But we are willing to help them.”
One of these kids is Damien Moore, an attractive soft-spoken 16 year-old with shaggy hair that usually covers his eyes and a don’t-look-at-me-the-wrong-way persona. Damien was sent to Central Academy after getting in trouble for possession of and trafficking a narcotic at Henderson County High School his freshman year. Enrolled at Central Academy now for three years, Damien hope to return to Henderson County High School.
Damien suffers from severe depression, a result of a troubled past and the death of his two grandparents whom he was extremely close to. He says he hides his emotions by putting up a “front."
“It sucks so much, and dealing with it sucks because I guess people can tell and they’re like, 'What’s wrong?' And I’m like, 'Nothing,'" Damien says. "And then I try to cover it up with a smile, but when I’m alone, it just gets to me.” However, Damien is growing up and has made drastic improvements since he first walked into Central. He has plans to attend college and become a lawyer, something an average boy can't do – and Damien is no average boy.