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Damien Moore leans back in his chair and disconnects from class during a video presentation. Damien is usually the most talkative kid during class, always full of facts and answering most questions the teacher asks, but every once in a while he will take a break to collect himself.

Positive Alternatives

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.


Damien Moore pushes fellow Central Academy student, Alex Skipworth, on the bus to Henderson County High School. The altercation never went past this shove from Damien but was started when they both yelled comments at each other about who was the tougher man.


Central Academy student Damien Moore watchs a slide show presentation during Art and Humanities class. The presentation on the artist Rembrandt fascinated Damien who has always been interested in art.


Damien Moore strums his grandfather's guitar to relax after a day of school in his home. Playing guitar is a way for Damien to escape the world and not worry about what is going on outside of him. After the death of his grandfather, Damien received the guitar and occasionally plays it for his dad who tells him, "Big Pa would be proud." Damien's grandparents died within a year of each other and caused Damien's depression to increase. "After losing them, I never felt the same," Damien says.


Damien Moore attempts to hug his girlfriend during bus change at Henderson County High School. Even though the two go to separate schools, they see each other briefly when Damien switches buses at Henderson County High School.


Damien Moore is forced to cover his tattoo while school is in session at Central Academy. The tattoo is a cross with a guitar leaning against it to represent his faith in God and his love for the guitar.


Damien Moore passes a neighboorhood on South Elm Street. Damien's dream is to attend the University of Kentucky and become a lawyer. "One day I want to provide for my parents — be able to give them a really nice home and take care of them," he says.

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