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Let's be honest about something: High school doesn't work for everyone.

And things get even harder if you're a student of color, from a poor family, or are one of the millions of kids who grow up with learning disabilities. All of these variables can put you at a demonstrable disadvantage within the education system.

All images via XQ.


The world needs creative solutions to this problem, and one school has managed to find one — a musical one.

Youth on Record is a nonprofit organization in Denver, Colorado, that gives high school youth access to music training.

"We put professional, local musicians in the classrooms," says Jami Duffy, executive director of Youth on Record. "And they teach for-credit high school classes to the kids with the least amount of credit to make sure that our kids get across that finish line and are ready for college."

These classes range from technical training in music production to discussions of race, class, gender, and social solutions. Many classes also involve the Denver community and feature guest speakers and lecturers from the area.

More than just extra classes, Youth on Record is empowering kids to take control of their own education.

"If I had a music program like this, I'd be more engaged to do my other classes so then I could get to that music classroom," says Israel Juarez, an intern at Youth on Record.

Israel Juarez rapping at Youth on Record, Denver.

By engaging students in areas they're naturally passionate about and teaching them the real-life skills associated with those passions, Youth on Record shows kids that education is about much more than passing a test.

"High school is to develop citizens," says Margarita Bianco, executive director at Pathways2Teaching. "It's not just about mastering a content area so that you can pass a state exam. I want students to feel empowered to share their stories and think of themselves as change agents."

For kids who might normally be left behind, Youth on Record provides an opportunity to get ahead.

The best moments in school are the ones when your natural interests intersect with your education, when you start to think of yourself as talented and special.

Not everyone gets those moments, and they walk away from high school feeling defeated.

Youth on Record is doing something potentially life-changing for their students by helping them discover that they're smart and capable, even when they feel the system has let them down.

The most important lesson of all? Even if traditional school doesn't work for them, there's a bright future ahead.

All you need to do is grab the mic and dictate your story.

Watch these amazing students in action:

They're providing a creative outlet for these teen students — and it's actually helping them excel in other areas of school as well.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Learn more at XQSuperSchool.org.

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Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

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