Documentary series following life at a high school in South Carolina, USA. A new principal arrives on a mission to improve the school.
Browse content similar to The Quest to Be the Best. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
If I had to describe OW in one word, a real diamond.
-Over the top.
-Oh, my God!
-This ain't no fairy-tale high school.
This ain't no fairy-tale story. Everything is real here.
Class of 2016!
At OW, you see black people 98% of the time.
You share pain, you share kin, we are lifelong friends forever.
Teachers, please close all doorways. We are in an active hall sweep.
Almost here and it's make or break time for me.
I am about to get ready to leave high school!
Y'all going to jail, because y'all in a stolen car.
Come on! Hey!
I am so proud of you because I know that you have overcome
obstacles to make it through this day.
-MAN ON RADIO:
-'Good morning, Orangeburg.
'It's a beautiful day in the Garden City.
'I'm Paul Harris right here at the People's Station, WOCS 93.7 FM.
'Another day, another dollar.'
I love OW.
OW is unknown.
People don't know how great OW could be.
I like my school.
We're not exactly popular but we're still hanging in there.
I'm glad I'm at OW, I'm glad this is my high school.
It's just crazy! Like, I just can't describe it.
I think the big word you can say is OW is a family.
-'You know, there's so much excitement
'that's going on around town.
'We now have a new principal, Dr Stephen Peters,
'and he has been asked to come to Orangeburg-Wilkinson
'at a very critical time,
'when we need to turn things around, when we need to move it forward.
'Dr Peters, being the principal at OW,
'what do you want to build at the high school?
'Well, I think there's a lot of work to be done.
'It's not an easy school to be run.
'So many of our public schools have failed,
'they're starting to call public schools "failure factories".
'I think our children deserve more than they're getting,
'particularly our children of colour who come from poverty.
-'This is a high poverty index school.
'OW is a school that also experienced lots of fighting,
'so two or three fights a day, sometimes.
'Some of our children go home after school and not knowing
'where they're going to stay the night,
'and it might be a different house three times this week.
'And the challenge is can the work be done?'
What's up? What's up?
I should take a picture and send it to your mom.
Tell her you were in here using the B-word.
-Don't get it twisted now, don't let this suit fool you!
I go in the hood. I'm from the hood.
INDISTINCT SPEECH OVER WALKIE-TALKIE
10-4. BELL RINGS
I like that coat. I like that.
This is Dr Peters, principal.
So, we begin today on our quest to be the best.
And as such, we're going to need your cooperation.
We are in three critical weeks of school, possibly the most
important weeks of this school year, as we prepare for testing.
Let's make this a fun day, zero drama.
What do people expect when people graduate from OW?
Not going to college.
Getting somebody pregnant or getting pregnant. Erm...
just going on the job where you gonna have to struggle
all your life, you know what I'm saying? Stuff like that.
So, do you think if the expectations are low for people
then it's difficult to change?
It's not impossible and I feel like...
They've probably been saying this for years and years
but it does start with ourselves, it starts with our generation
and even if it's just a small portion then that still matters.
We're not just that ratchet school in Orangeburg,
we're actually pretty smart kids.
My name is Jalena Jones.
I am a senior at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.
I am involved in several clubs and activities that
take up much of my time.
I do drill team after school.
I am in the National Society of Black Engineers.
I am a part of National Honours Society.
I am in Emeralds Of Distinction,
which is like a high school sorority.
-Is there anything you're not doing now?
-Er, a quitter.
Pretty sure that most of the people that passed by right now
don't even know who I am.
I kind of keep to myself.
I am beginning the steps to be by myself as an adult.
I'm kind of, sort of, ready for it but it's, like,
kind of scary at the same time.
We got the same hairstyle!
'Well, Jalena and I have been friends since sixth grade.'
We've always pretty much just been the top two in our class.
I was about to wear that, "AI In Action."
I would describe Jalena as a beautiful person, inside and out.
All right, can I have y'all's attention for a just a second?
Please, listen up.
These are three of the most critical weeks of our whole school year,
No playing, no fighting. Serious business.
And all the kids fail on purpose.
Nobody in the classroom is succeeding.
Everybody is just failing.
Everybody talking about OW, how bad it is, how ratchet it is.
We need to make this school what it's capable of being.
Work, work, work, work. You never know, it may work out.
Then it may not work out. But then, it may work out!
So, three weeks of straight-up business. See you all later.
Uncomfortably quiet and peaceful this morning.
I don't know whether it was the announcement this morning
seeking their help.
But I like it and I am hoping that it will last
and we can ride this three-week critical time right into testing.
'We want to break records, we want higher test scores,
'we want a lower dropout rate.
'Testing, it's tied to what people think of our school.'
And get too hot!
-It's about to come down tonight!
The Bruins are ready to fight!
-We're here to win this game and get too hot!
It's about to come down tonight, the Bruins are ready to fight!
I'm Vernon, Vernon Stevens. Everybody knows me.
We're here to win this game and get too hot!
-'I'm currently a cheerleader.
'I'm on the Varsity squad.'
-Right, let's go!
When you finish, stop talking. You don't have to prove...
"We wasn't talking, she..."
You don't have to prove yourself to nobody.
My coach, she can be hard on me. I know she loves me, though.
She loves all her girls but I think she loves me more
because I'm Vernon.
We have our next practice and you finish something,
you talk when I sit you down, I'm going to call your mother for you.
Vernon is like my brother/sister.
'I could ask him for fashion advice.
'We play make-up together.
-'He's so girlie!'
We aren't doing it like you don't even want to do it.
If you're going to be absent, you need to communicate.
We were sitting here discussing the importance of your role.
She had to actually stand in for you yesterday,
so accountability is going to be important.
-It won't happen next time.
-OK, so you'll be here tomorrow?
Or will we be just be holding your banner up
and saying that you went to work?
-Oh, God, I thought my phone cracked!
'She wants me to be focused and don't let anything distract me
'cos once I get distracted... I'm easily distracted.
'If you don't know, I'm very easily distracted.'
Sometimes I get worried about Vernon because I want him to be able
to do bigger and better things than what he's used to.
There is more than just this little town that we live in.
-WOMAN ON PA:
please report to the cafeteria immediately.
All administrators please report to the cafeteria immediately.
-MAN ON WALKIE-TALKIE:
-Dr Peters, message me. Dr Peters.
I'm on my way.
Just had some new information that a weapon was used.
I repeat, a weapon was used.
'OW has a reputation for itself.'
It's a bad school, fights and stuff always going on.
All right, can you all go, please? Just go.
I mean, what you waiting for? Just go to class.
Why y'all still here? No, no, can't go that way.
We've got that blocked off.
Outside school, they think of OW as thug, hood.
You can barely go a day without hearing something bad happening -
fights, shootouts or something.
There's no level of how, how severe something is,
you know what I'm saying? Everything is severe.
So, a girl said the boy's eye is cut because of the brass knuckle.
-We want to block this area off from now on.
Tell whoever's supposed to be there, Coach Derby, to be on post.
This is ridiculous, man. So much for three weeks of business.
So, here's what I'm going to do.
You and your brother are going to get suspended for fighting.
I'm going to put them out because we can't find the brass knuckle
but we've got witnesses that he has them.
-I'm going to charge him with having a weapon.
Putting them out for ten days with recommendation for expulsion.
They're gone, they're not coming back here. So, y'all got to...
This has to stop right here. All right? We've done our part.
Keep the ice on, that'll go down.
You never know what's going to happen when you come here.
The Burg is really crazy.
You've got some people who just don't care.
Officer McQueen, come back, please.
Some of the kids said there are two cars coming up here to retaliate?
Somebody's coming up here to finish this off,
that's what some kids just told me.
I just cleared the parking lot just now.
So, we need to keep watch outside.
Two cars supposed to be coming up here to fight these kids.
This ain't the safest place to be.
At all times, anything crazy could happen at any time.
So, you got to know your boundaries,
you got to know what's safe, what's not.
Mr Jones, I need you to use your car to be vigilant outside.
Check the student parking lot and just keep your eyes open out there
and alert us to anything that's out of order, OK?
'I used to run the streets a lot.'
One night, I went, I was out there selling drugs, whatever,
and I had a gun put to my head.
They told me, it was like, if I didn't come up with
everything that was in my pocket, they'd shoot me in my head.
In America, we've had so many school shootings, mass shootings,
that law enforcement believes that if we have an armed police officer
in our school, if something like that were to happen,
that the school is not totally defenceless.
All right, this is Dr Peters.
Well, what happened is we have video that shows that your youngest son
was in possession of brass knuckles.
Some of the kids are saying that some of their friends
are on the way up here to school.
I need you to try to help them to ward that kind of stuff off.
This needs to stop.
All right, OK. Thank you. Bye-bye.
This is the reality of now.
It's a continuous cycle that never stops.
You get me, I get you back.
My cousin gets you, my cousins get you back.
And it has become a culture in our young society.
We got ropes!
Hey! You doing anything?
20 be too much.
Hey, excuse me, y'all need to finish your workout.
I don't need y'all to watch the sunshine.
Kordel, you up? Who's up? You up?
I need a good laugh.
My name is Kordel Johnson. I'm a senior.
I play football.
I'm number 17 and I'm a wide receiver.
That ain't too sissy, that's 255.
-This is 12!
All right, you're good.
I know you wouldn't see it in the smile now
but I was a terrible child.
I just talked too much and I was just bad, I was horrible.
Kordel is a good friend.
I heard... Not I heard of him but, you know, I knew
that he played football and he was in the football team
last year when I cheered.
Get it on, come on. Lock it out, lock it out. Lock it out!
Kordel, he always had a lot of confidence about himself.
His main goal's to be a star in OW.
Everybody's been telling me since I was, like, in sixth grade,
"You're cocky, you're arrogant, you're just standard dirt.
"You're just too this and too that."
He's just a...friend.
Mm-hm, that's it.
-On three, one, two, three!
At Orangeburg, there's that perception of us being jocks
and just picking on kids, it's not really like that.
We just go to class, man, we trying to survive and stuff, man.
We just out here trying to make it till the next day.
Come on, Mike. We need to use you if you ain't doing anything, Mike.
Come on, we need you out there if you're not in first offense.
'Here at OW, football is a tool to get an education.
'Not just being a football player.'
And I always go to them and ask them, "What do you want to do?
"Do you want to play college football?"
They say yeah, so that makes me motivate them more.
Hey, hold up, I need another lineback guy here.
'All of the athletic teams, no matter what team, it's year round.
-'And that's what we do here at OW.'
'Everything at OW athletically is good.
'They prepare us for college athletically.'
But academically, er, no.
Coach, what is Herb doing? Oh, man! come on, Herb.
I know you're in that great class!
I love football. I love it so much, man.
I used to take plastic bottles,
fill it with rocks and throw it at myself. "Somebody play with me."
Nobody used to play with me when I was a youngster.
'I've wanted to play football since I was, like, five.'
Down this side.
'In college. I just want to get out of Orangeburg, so bad.'
If I could just, like...
You ever seen The Wizard Of Oz?
Like, she just click her heels and just disappear?
If I could do that, I'd do that right now.
I really, really want to get out of Orangeburg.
What is that? What are you doing, old boy?
Is that the way you're going to run the play?
Who are you fooling doing this like this?
Go to the line and round the play!
I mean, red dummy three, man!
And that's just what you are just now.
'I actually make them go through a lot.'
There's no short cut, there's no easy way to do it.
It's a grind every day.
Coach Brown will not let me talk back or anything like that.
I'm in the ninth grade. I got in trouble, man.
He whispered in my ear, "You like to talk back?
"You'll be talking to that grass all day."
And I had to crab all day.
There you go.
All right, listen up. You know how crazy it's going to be? OK?
Nobody's going to have fun
unless we win the football game, especially us.
We've got to take care of this business.
-One, two, three.
Game time, baby, let's go!
It's a big game and we've still got a chance
of reaching the Championship,
so it's going to be very important to us to get this win.
We've had colleges come in, looking for different athletes.
This could be the difference in them getting big scholarships,
based on one game.
Everybody just wants to show what they're capable of doing.
'I never had no goals in my senior year besides making it to college.'
And it's make or break time for me.
'Research says it takes 3-5 years for constructive change
'to take place in our schools.
'Unfortunately, we don't have 3-5 years. We have to change now.
'And we have to stand up, tired or not, and make a difference.'
It's seven o'clock. Or later.
Good morning, precious princess.
-So, what's the schedule for today?
-Go to class and it starts at 8:10.
I'm trying to finish my computer work and my economics work.
Mr Triseci gave us a whole packet of stuff to do.
-What's your schedule today?
-Go to the factory.
And try to earn some milk for the baby.
With the last child.
I'm the last child, no, no!
-Gonna have some more babies.
-No, you won't.
Gonna have some more babies, what are you talking about?
No, you won't.
-It might help me to live to be 350 or whatever years old.
-I'm helping you to live to be 350 years old.
You see how youthful you look now?
-That's because of me.
-All right, me!
'My daddy is Robert Jones.'
He supports me in everything I do.
I have applied to a lot of colleges. I think I applied to, like, 17.
The career that I want to choose is computer engineering.
I applied to Georgia Tech, which has one of the best
engineering programmes in the world.
I think he wants me to go there because that's like in his dreams,
I guess, when he was younger and he used to want to be an engineer.
And now it's my chance,
it's almost like he wants me to keep striving for those goals.
-So, is that your dream?
-That is generally my dream, yes.
I'm going around doing some encouragement talks about testing.
Unfortunately, test scores tell the story.
Whether our teachers are teaching and whether you're learning.
Bottom line is there's a lot at stake.
INTERCOM: I know that we will increase our test scores.
But we can only do it with your help,
so I ask that you join me this morning,
as we embark on changing the culture at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School.
Are you ready? You feel like you ready? OK, all right.
We're counting on you. Are you ready today? Are you ready?
All right, do your best. 90%.
Good luck today. Good luck. Go get 'em.
You feel great? Feel like you're ready?
All right, let's do it for me. OK?
Do it for me, do it for you, do it for the school.
Start walking. Let's go.
I'm just sitting here, looking at some highlights.
Have a seat, man.
We're going to make this attempt to help your dream come true, man,
that's my goal, you know,
I know a lot of coaches dream about winning championships.
But my goal is getting as many kids that want to go to college, go to college.
OK. That's good play right there.
Showing some speed, breaking tackles.
One thing about receivers, it's a tough position to get recruited in because there's
so many receivers out there. You've got to show something different.
-You've got to show something special.
-I think I'm special.
I'm a diamond. And I ain't no uncut diamond. I'm polished.
You know, put me on a ring right now.
I'm engagement-ready, that's how I am.
You know, I wish I could promise.
I never make promises cos that's not real.
But, you know, you demonstrated a lot of things and, you know,
that show me that you can play on the next level.
Six million people playing high school football.
Only probably like 60,000 of them are going to get into college.
The chances of it is hard.
But I mean, I think I am good enough for that.
Black people don't get opportunities.
So, you have to maximise your opportunity.
You have to make the best out of every opportunity.
-Welcoming you to Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School pep rally.
Just one day to go until the Bruins Friday night football game against Berkeley.
The atmosphere in the Bruins den is electric
and we're with them all the way.
A pep rally is a school gathering, where everybody in the school,
teachers, students, staff members, everybody,
they just come together and celebrate and, like, get hype for the game.
Give it up for our football team!
Pep rallies are supposed to boost the team's morale and
show them that they are supported and that we want them to win.
Football players, they work hard for what they get.
You can tell, like, they put in work to become something successful.
It's not just one person for themselves or the other
person just goes about themselves. It's everybody working together,
so that we all can be at the top.
Football comes down to what's in your heart.
If you keep working on it, you work hard enough, there ain't
no telling what you could really become.
What do you do on a Friday night when the lights are on?
It's all or nothing.
-..better than MY class - class of 2016!
BUZZ OF CONVERSATIONS
I failed that test, uh-huh...
I didn't do well. I didn't do well.
Final exam, you got 22 questions correct out of a total of 45.
-You're going to have to repeat the whole course.
I failed it, it's OK. I tried.
I'm the one that got the failing grade.
I get the work, I get how to do the work but I guess
when the test comes and, like, it's...shut-down mode.
The fall testing that we got, the results that we got, I,
um, was not well pleased.
The bottom line is,
we're going to all be held accountable for what happens.
-You know, Rome wasn't built in a day.
We have a job ahead of us. It's a tough job
but it's something that's doable.
People need to know that these students are learning.
Ours were not great results.
We had students who could have passed if they have two more points.
So, when you see that, you're like, "Wow, we could have been, like,
"majorly ahead of the game."
It gives us hope.
But we have a lot of work to do.
It's cold outside.
I was, uh, looking at degrees on this form,
on this report card again.
She pointed that out. Number one in the class.
-Check me out.
-What's the amount on the cheque that I get for that?
-Cheque? What cheque?
For your being number one.
No, you get a cheque of the amount of affection I have given you
-for 18 whole years.
-All right, all right. Outstanding.
-Well done, well done.
-So, what are you cooking tonight?
-Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
-Friday night lights, right here in Orangeburg, South Carolina, 93.7 FM.
The People's Station, for the Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School football game.
This is a night of excitement and activity for the whole family.
-Paul, what do you think about it?
-I'm telling you, it's a big game, Harvey,
as OW are facing off against the Berkley Stags and you
cannot forget about playmaker Kordel Johnson.
They are expecting big things out of big number 17.
Ready for the fight... Hey, you see how we're rocking.
You see how we rocking... All pink. That's how we rocking, all pink.
If you're going to do it, you got to do it right...
You got to release everything, man. You see that boy right there?
That's a boom star. My dog with the Batman on.
-Light it up, baby, all I'm gonna say.
-Boom squad. Hey, baby.
This is my main man right here, my DB.
Yeah, flex up one time! Flex up!
And we got Tariq Thomas in the locker room.
Let's get it, you already know. Chills in here.
-What's happening, baby!
-Muscle up, kid. Muscle up one time!
That's the T right there, baby. Hey, it's our heart right here. It's football. We love this, baby.
This is a big year for me.
Either I'm going to get a scholarship
or I'm not going to get a scholarship.
If you lose, you live to fight again.
If you win, you are on top of the world for that moment.
-And we are under way here from Bruin Stadium!
It's Berkeley with the kick-off.
And the Bruins get the ball.
What a start for OW!
-High school football at OW is like everybody that you know
and everybody knows going to be at your game.
Your momma, the people that your momma know.
People that you see at the barbershop.
The cheerleaders come on and
the band come in and it's a great feeling, man.
-Number 17, Kordel Johnson, ready to receive.
Number two quarterback lets loose.
It's long. Johnson in the end zone.
I love going to sporting events and being a proud Bruin.
I want my team to win. I'm behind them all the way.
I wish them success.
I mean, I always play with a chip on my shoulder,
cos I think I'm Superman.
Any time OW has needed me, I have come to save the day.
Let's go 60 now... Read it, read it.
-Coach Brown calls a quick play!
OW driving for the line. Touchdown, Bruins!
And at the half, the Bruins lead 14-0.
-Football is big.
That's just how people dream at OW. They want to make it to the NFL
and everything is going to be all good. But at a certain time,
you know, reality hits.
-We are in the second half and it's a different side we're seeing.
Berkeley are making a comeback.
And Bruins' captain... he's down on the field.
Berkeley get a break. He finds space.
OW missed their man. He's almost made it.
Touchdown, Berkeley. It's 14 apiece. Man, this is tight.
This does not look good for the Bruins.
What are you all doing? Why is the fullback running the trap?
Gentlemen, we are self-destructing every time. We are self-destructing!
We are self-destructing.
Every time we get a drop, somebody do something stupid!
Just right. 60, 60, 60. Move through!
Blue through! Blue! Blue!
Back, back, back!
I told you we'd get it done with the whole thing.
Couldn't have written the script better than that.
30-yard touchdown pass to win the game. But we'll take it.
-We'll take it!
I feel wonderful. I feel great for coach Tommy Brown!
For the Bruin nation.
I don't like losing. I don't play this game to lose.
Who was the person that got shot?
Something happened and he pulled out a gun and shot the boy.
Rendull is popular with the ladies.
But, OK, I don't want to get into that!
If people knew what I went through, they'd understand.
The reason why I act out. See, that hole up there in that wall? I punched the wall.
New principal Dr Peters arrives on a mission to improve grades and discipline, but a mass brawl and the threat of further violence gives him a swift reality check. Meanwhile, high-achieving pupil Jalena begins college applications, but with college fees costing more than a house, will she even be able to afford to go? Male cheerleader Vernon and star football player Kordel each prepare for the big Friday night football game. Can a win for the school help to get Dr Peters' ambitions back on track?