Members of the Riverdale High School Marching Band pose for a promotional video to highlight the school.
RIVERDALE — Michael Macon, 33, is filming a promotional video to highlight the positive things at Riverdale High School.
Principal Jamille Miller-Brown said Macon, an alum and Riverdale native, reached out to her to shoot a segment of his short film titled “Crush.” It stars senior athlete Fred Ward.
Miller-Brown said as the two talked about the film, they came up with the idea to create a promotional video to improve the school’s image.
She said the school has been viewed in a negative light in recent weeks, partly due to published accounts of violence on campus.
Assistant Principal Genghis Shakhan was accused of using unnecessary force to restrain disorderly students in October. Shakhan defended himself at a tribunal this month.
Miller-Brown is featured speaking in the 13-minute video, providing commentary on the school’s academic and athletics programs.
She acknowledged about 95 percent of the student population is eligible for free or reduced lunch.
“Although we are a Title I school, you don’t see a difference,” she said, pointing out the school’s recent academic scholars.
She said former students Lugman Muhammad and Michael Oyeyemi are recipients of the Gates Millenium Scholarship for scholastic achievement. Muhammad, who graduated in 2011, and Oyeyemi, who graduated in 2012, both attend the University of Georgia.
“The message is basically that Riverdale is a school of excellence,” said Miller-Brown.
Macon produced and edited the video he expects will be published soon and posted to the school website when it gets official approval.
“It displays the talents of the band, sports scholars and a step team performance,” Macon said.
Campus scenes depict classroom projects, sports teams and fine arts programs. Staff, faculty and parents also gave testimonies about how they have been positively affected by the school.
Sabrina Davis is the agri-science teacher at Riverdale High.
“Everybody is family around here,” Davis said. “We scold when we scold and we praise when we praise — and we praise hard.”
Macon credits that family atmosphere with his own successes.
He graduated in 1998, the same year he began his film and music production career in earnest. He said he was a part of a large talent pool at Riverdale High that included rapper Clifford “T.I.” Harris and singer Ciara Harris.
“It’s pretty much all we have is music and each other,” he said. “I just like producing music. I like creating music and I like the feel of music.”
Macon said he started his company, Mista Monsta Productions LLC, by helping friends record demos in the Windgate Hills neighborhood near the school.
“My media company started out in the basement of my mama’s house,” he said. “I had a vision and after a while I let God take over and He made the vision even clearer.”
He said he got a business permit for $60 and bought recording equipment with his paychecks working full-time at the Riverdale Walmart and a part-time third shift at DSC Logistics Inc. in Forest Park.
Macon said he would produce demos for friends and clients from 9 a.m. until 3 a.m. the next day. This was in the early days. His business has since expanded to a 3,000- square foot studio on Ga. 85.
He said he returned to Riverdale High this month in hopes of being a model of hard work and persistence.
“Follow your dreams,” he said. “When you’re first starting out, it seems like a long way away but you should work hard and stay with it.”