2017 Feature, Medium Newsroom finalist

A Year at Encina

Andrew Nixon, Jesikah Maria Ross and Catherine Stifter

Capital Public Radio

Feature, Medium Newsroom


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About the Project

1,100 students. 21 languages. 56 teachers. Encina Preparatory (6-12) High School serves families who come from around the world and across the street. During the 2016-2017 school year, Capital Public Radio assigned Multimedia Producer Andrew Nixon to explore culture, resilience, challenges and change in suburban Sacramento through the eyes and experiences of teachers, staff and students at this extremely diverse, low-income school that serves a very high population of refugee and homeless students.

Year At Encina was the first visual project of Capital Public Radio’s award-winning documentary unit The View From Here. Over the past five years TVFH has created thought-provoking first-person documentaries and digital stories that inspire us to learn, understand and respond. We build stronger communities with artful, relevant storytelling that connects us to each other’s experiences, challenges and dreams. Year At Encina was designed to raise the voices of Encina community members through a monthly series of video profiles, photo essays and radio features.

Alongside the professional content,TVFH published a curated selection of some of the hundreds of Instagram posts generated from staff and student storytelling workshops led by CapRadio’s Community Engagement Strategist, Jesikah Maria Ross. The workshops taught participants photography, writing and social media skills. Posts were organized under the hashtag #YearAtEncina, which we used to promote all our coverage throughout the year.

For this award entry, we’ve pointed to some of our favorite stories, including:

The First Person You See
Haidar Ali Moradi is the first person you see at Encina Preparatory High School. As the front desk receptionist, he uses his language skills on a daily basis to help students and families navigate phone calls, paperwork and meetings. Moradi worked as a translator for the United States Agency for International Development in Afghanistan. He arrived in the U.S. with his family on a Special Immigrant Visa after his life was threatened.

When Soccer Is The Common Language
Nineteen students make up Encina Preparatory High School’s varsity men’s soccer team. Four different languages are spoken by team members: Arabic, English, Spanish and Kinyarwanda, the language spoken in Rwanda. But, language isn’t a barrier.

At Home At School
It takes Marteya Wright an hour and a half to get to school by bus each day. She spent three weeks in a homeless shelter after couch-surfing at friends’ houses. She presses on, working toward her diploma at Encina despite the obstacles. “My friends keep me motivated,” says Wright. She wants a more comfortable life, but for now she’s working hard to get through school.

How One Student Learned English And Stopped Fighting
Ali Al Jayab was suspended for fighting five times in his first three years at Encina Preparatory High School. When he learned English, everything changed for this Iraqi teenager who always wanted to go to America.

Instagram Storytelling Project
The staff and students of Encina Preparatory High School deal with extraordinary challenges on a daily basis. Through the #YearAtEncina storytelling project, they share their hopes, dreams and struggles at school and in life.