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The Miami Youth Academy houses up to 28 boys from 14 to 18 years old, who are sent there by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. The students are documenting the pandemic in stories and poems for their student newspaper Titan Tribune, which they produce in a journalism class run by Exchange for Change, a local nonprofit group that teaches writing classes in youth commitment and adult correctional facilities. Retired newspaper reporter Henry Unger has taught the class for nearly two years in collaboration with the academy and Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Obstacle Course 

By K. R. 

A spreading virus causing tragedies
Trying to avoid the virus yet we have four infected kids at Miami Youth Academy
People on quarantine are stuck at home
Not being able to meet up and see friends who you can only see on the screen of a phone
Everybody is buying face masks
This has affected the world making lots of people pass
This is an obstacle course God put up for us to go through
We just have to deal with it and do our part like we’re supposed to
Praying this doesn’t take a loved one
This virus has taken lots of lives and it has become death’s son
Locked up while all this is going on
People missing important events in their lives like prom
Hospitals full, no more beds
6-feet distance trying to make it not spread
This is a moment the world won’t forget
You gotta stay strong and keep a good mindset
People’s grandparents being taken
People going crazy like a dog smelling bacon


By J. S.

Trump, a man of danger 
He created it, paid China 
Trump, a man of danger

On My Own 

By L. G. 

Where were you when I was on my own
When I needed you the most you were nowhere to be found
I needed help up off the ground
My prayer hand was up
And my head was hanging down
Tears falling off my face
And y’all weren’t there to help me out

When I was independent
Had to get it on my own
‘Cause I felt like I was strong
People start throwing sticks and stones
‘Cause words don’t break my bones
What don’t kill you will make you strong
I had to learn that on my own


By C. B.

Corona, Corona
Ain’t no drink
So you better think
Cuz if you blink
You’ll sink

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

The students at the Miami Youth Academy wrote these stories for their newspaper Titan Tribune, a collaborative effort by the facility, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Exchange for Change, a Miami-based non-profit group that supports writing programs in youth commitment and adult correctional facilities. The students work on the paper in a journalism class taught by retired journalism teacher Henry Unger. The writers are identified by their initials to protect their identities.