Melissa Golden - Photographer - Atlanta, GA

The Burial Ceremony

The assembly at Frederick Douglass High School in Southwest Atlanta featured a casket and eulogy and gospel choir- but no body. Instead, students folded up personal essays they had written that morning and put them in the casket one by one. On each piece of paper was written the pain they wished to bury. ⁣Mental health in American schools is considered secondary to the educational mission in the best of circumstances. Often it is eschewed altogether, leaving adolescents to navigate an inherently difficult phase of their lives without the tools, support or coping mechanisms to deal with the severe traumas many of them have experienced. The Burial Ceremony was created with that in mind, as a way to help the students of Frederick Douglass High address their hardships, grieve, and go back to class.

For The Washington Post

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Junior Kristin White, 17, cries as she shares her tribulations with her classmates before the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga. White discussed her suicide attempt as her
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Dr. Ed Morris greets senior Corrasandra Weaver in the hall before class starts on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga. "You gotta realize- they don't get hugged at home," said Morris, the schoo
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Sophomore Kenwanna Hudson composes her essay for the burial ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga.
(Photo by Melissa Golden for The Washington Post)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Sophomore Cayla Cook composes her essay for the burial ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga.
(Photo by Melissa Golden for The Washington Post)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Students watch a video before attending the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga. The video featured faculty and staff talking about the hurts and issues they themselves have
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Students make their way to the Burial Ceremony assembly on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga.
(Photo by Melissa Golden for The Washington Post)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
School social worker and creator of the Burial Ceremony Dr. Ed Morris watches over the event on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga.
(Photo by Melissa Golden for The Washington Post)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
The school's chorus performs during the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga.
(Photo by Melissa Golden for The Washington Post)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
State championship-winning basketball team, The Lady Astros, wheel in the coffin during the processional for the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga.
(Photo by Melissa Golden
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Pastor and comedian Rodney Johnson kicks off the Burial Ceremony as the master of ceremonies on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga.
(Photo by Melissa Golden for The Washington Post)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
From left, Marquita Strozier, Nikki Anderson, Tamara Smith stand on stage during the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga. The three women are mothers of slain Frederick Dougl
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Members of the state championship-winning basketball team, The Lady Astros, weep and hold each other during the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga.
(Photo by Melissa Golden
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Judge Penny Brown Reynolds delivers the eulogy during the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga.
(Photo by Melissa Golden for The Washington Post)
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Students, many of them crying, are embraced by staff and faculty as they make their way to the coffin to place their essays in the coffin during the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in A
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Students, many of them crying, are embraced by staff and faculty as they make their way to the coffin to place their essays in the coffin during the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in A
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Students, many of them crying, are embraced by staff and faculty as they make their way to the coffin to place their essays in the coffin during the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in A
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Students, many of them crying, are embraced by staff and faculty as they make their way to the coffin to place their essays in the coffin during the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in A
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Special education teacher Edna Peprah cries at the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta, Ga. "These kids go through so much and they have no one to talk to," she said.
(Photo by M
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
State championship-winning basketball team, The Lady Astros, wheel out the coffin which is now full of the students' essays during the recessional for the Burial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High Schoo
ATLANTA, GA - MARCH, 12:
Social studies teacher Tremetrice Wheeler talks with the students in her class after the Burial Ceremony about how they're feeling and asks how the school can follow-up on it on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 at Frederick Douglass High S
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