Local 11th grader Thomas Hager is featured in a major documentary narrated by Jamie Foxx, which will air on the National Geographic channel on September 26. Thomas shares his experiences growing up in the coal-mining town with little access to technology.
The film is Without a net: The Digital Divide in America. Directed by Rory Kennedy, the documentary highlights how many schools nationwide do not have access to computers and other electronic devices required to support a 21st century education.
Kennedy chose to feature Kentucky to show how rural area schools such as those in the Pike County School System have to fight against greater odds because of digital inequalities. Thomas’ school Belfry, the largest Pike County School, was lucky enough to bring in technology while the documentary was being filmed, and Thomas is a shining example of just what can happen when a student’s potential is unleashed. While his grandfather was a coal miner – Thomas now has his sights on being an engineer and wants to make Eastern Kentucky a place where people come to for jobs.
“I want people to know that just because we come from a coal-mining town, doesn’t mean we don’t have potential,” he told me. With little access to technology at school and dial-up internet at home, Thomas says he just wants to see what it’s like to have a chance.
The film is screening at New York Film Festival.
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