Del Norte Education Center

Scholars within the walls of Pelican Bay

Story published in The Lumberjack, 5/8/2019

Scholars within the walls of Pelican Bay

On a Thursday evening a California golden-hued sunset blankets the far north Pacific coast region where Christopher Callahan tells his students to tend to their plants. His students are checking Ph levels, adding fertilizer and formulating a hypothesis for a controlled experiment.

Like any other science classroom, the walls are covered in posters with the periodic table of the elements, the genetic codon chart and a display of eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell breakdown. The only difference with Callahan’s classroom is his students are wearing light blue loose-fitting jump suits with CDCR block lettering on the back, a handful are blasted head-to-toe with tattoos and a corrections officer paces down the hall every so often. Callahan teaches inside Pelican Bay State Prison and his students are inmates enrolled in the College of the Redwoods’ Pelican Bay Scholars Program.

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