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Cody Perkins and Chris Johnson.

join the discussion: What are your reactions and thoughts after viewing Country Boys?  What most struck you about the struggles of Chris Johnson and Cody Perkins --  two boys  coming of age in eastern Kentucky's Appalachian hills?

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am watching the series today for the second time.

I am so humbled by Cody and Chris and their strength of character and ability to survive what seem to be otherwise insurmountable odds. Both are such intelligent and kind people. Cody's focus is astounding. And Chris positively shines when he is in front of a group leading a new idea or project. Both have been let down in one way or another by the people who have should loved, encouraged, and protected them and yet they are still successes in so many ways. And Liz McGuire is a very very special woman. I have learned so much from this program and these people. Thank you all for sharing your lives.

Deborah Sampson
Hancock, NH

Dear FRONTLINE,

The repeated images of the coal trains, carrying extraordinary wealth out of the region, stands in such vivid contrast to the poverty of their community. The film provokes in me feelings of compassion for the boys, but also feelings of anger over the economic injustice that cries out for a national response.

Robert McAndrews
Salem, MA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am so grateful that a bad cold kept me up that first night . After that I was hooked ,deeply involved in tne stories of Christopher and Cody and their families, school and community.I haven't been so impressed by the power of television since Ken Burns' CIVIL WAR.

For any parent or teacher who is so discouraged as to think it really doesn't matter what you say or do,COUNTRY BOYS is the antidote. Liz, Mitzi,the other teachers, Pastor Bill-all are the very definition of hero. I will keep them all and the unnamed millions of struggling others in my prayers. They are unforgettable!

Jeannie Fleming
Dagsboro, De.

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am so grateful that a bad cold kept me up that first night . After that I was hooked ,deeply involved in tne stories of Christopher and Cody and their families, school and community.I haven't been so impressed by the power of television since Ken Burns' CIVIL WAR.

For any parent or teacher who is so discouraged as to think it really doesn't matter what you say or do,COUNTRY BOYS is the antidote. Liz, Mitzi,the other teachers, Pastor Bill-all are the very definition of hero. I will keep them all and the unnamed millions of struggling others in my prayers. They are unforgettable!

Jeannie Fleming
Dagsboro, De.

Dear FRONTLINE,

A very special thank you to Frontline and David Sutherland for Country Boys.My husband and I watched all 6 hours. I laughed some and cried a lot and was emotionally spent as this wonderful film ended.

I was born and raised in eastern Ky.In 1957 my dad, a coal miner, died at the age of 48 from black lung. We didn't have much money but I had the love and support of my dear Mama.

My heart goes out to Chris and Cody and I will say a prayer everyday for these fine young men.

If I could say one thing to Chris "please never give up your dream of going to college" and for your health, please try to stop smoking.

Bridget Fugate
Middletown, Ohio

Dear FRONTLINE,

Living in an affluent NJ suburb, where it is rare to not have both parents at teacher conference night, this documentary took me to another world of desperation.

Yet in the midst of this poverty, the David school teachers and administration, especially Mitzi, were inspiring in their deep caring and "going the extra mile" for Chris. Cody's Step-Grandmother -- a true gem. Finally, for me, Cody proves that multi-pierced, Heavy Metal afficianados can be deeply thoughtful, caring and loving.

Chris Millen
Westfield, NJ

Dear FRONTLINE,

As noted by someone earlier on this board, the ACT Assessment fiasco bothered me. It seems that Chris was well prepared for the GED, including taking a practice test, but little time and attention were given to help him prepare for the ACT exam. There are readily available ACT Assessment prep materials and practice exams which can be found by going to www.act.org (my former employer).

I'd encourage Chris to check out the Web site and consider taking the ACT exam again after he's done some preparation and tried a practice exam. One can take the exam several times in an attempt to improve one's score. If the offer from the college for a full ride scholarship still stands, it would be well worth giving it a shot. Chris, you're obviously bright young man and a hard worker. You can do it!

We are cheering for Cody's and Jessica's successes and waiting for Ray Riddle's CD. My husband says he sounds like Waylon!

Janet Peters
West Branch, IA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I would like to compliment David Sutherland for doing an excellent job on this film.

I would also like to add that I came from the Appalachians (SW VA) Floyd County was not all that far from where I grew up. So, I can relate to much of what I saw in the production. Especially when they were talking about how they are treated because of where they are from. I moved away from that area- years ago to Western KY-partly to try to get steadier, better paying work. But, I find that many people still discriminate against folks from that area. If they find you are from the 'Appalachians' they automatically assume you have grown up with no social graces and that you are under educated and backward. Some things never change, and continues outside the hollers and onward.

It's sad it has to be like that. Smart, talented people come from everywhere. Below average people come from everywhere. The law of averages applies to one place as much as the other. I think it is just that the negatives have most been associated with that area, and that is the general thought that prevails.

Excellent job, it really touched me to watch this story unfold.

Charlotte Robinson
New Concord, Kentucky

Dear FRONTLINE,

Its clear that many people were deeply moved by this show. I keep coming back to the web site to read people's reactions and to understand more about the social and economic background of Appalachia. It is especially timely after watching the trajedy unfold in the Sago mines of West Virginia.

I admire Danny Greene tremendously - to leave a successful future as an NYU graduate and dedicate his life to Appalachia is amazing. He is a saint to me - one who has truly "opened his arms to the poor and extended a hand to the needy". I don't want to just move on after seeing this show. Thank you for inspiring so many of us. The ripple effects will reach far and wide, I believe.

Karen Thompson
Westerville, OH

Dear FRONTLINE,

I was unable to think about anything else during the 3 nights I viewed "Country Boys." I am a master's-level educated social worker and I live in the Pacific Northwest.

For the past 15 and a half years I have been employed as a Public Health Social Worker, working in a different site-town each day, M-F. I serve a population of pregnant women receiving medicaid for a variety of services. My clients live in desperate poverty. I am the middle-class, educated, well-fed social worker who tries to help in ways that are not much different from the way Mitzi, the principal tried to help Chris and Cody.

My middle-class neighbors have no clue about the different culture and places I visit each day. Everything I have learned tells me this: support is the most powerful gift we can share with anyone else. I fail if I am the all-knowing visitor to the homes and lives of people living in poverty. I succeed when I can find a way to "support" people in their efforts to imagine new lives. I am so glad that the world I saw in my childhood, in the lumber mill towns of the southwestern corner of Washington state, near Mt. St. Helens, and see each day in the southeastern corner of the same state, near the Hanford nuclear reservation, is finally ON television and in discussion/chat rooms so that others see this life. I drive to it and go home from it each day and it never leaves my thoughts and heart for long. Thanks.

margaret ellison
pasco, wa

Dear FRONTLINE,

this is why we need PBS ,where do you get to watch such real life situations unfold in such a graphic nature.

this program shows why we need to help our young. these boys represent thousands of children in this country who need and deserve our support. i now will help and donate to these kinds of programs including pbs. i truly was very upset and if i could i would have payed for those boys to go to school and others like them. God bless you guys.

joseph napoli
nyc, nys

Dear FRONTLINE,

An incredible show, thank you. My husband and I looked forward to each night. Our 2 "kids" graduated high school in 2000, and 2001, so they are going through the same growing pains--what to do with my life?

Cody and Chris, you are more than decent human beings who happened to be dealt a hard hand early on. That you pulled yourselves up and succeeded in graduating high school is a testament to your strength. Keep it up!

J Connolly
Madison, CT

Dear FRONTLINE,

This was a film, not about Eastern Kentucky, it could have been anywhere. But, if it had been elsewhere there may not have been a David School. There may not have been an opportunity to allow the "haves" to see how the "have nots" struggle to make it in life. But, why did not the local press, such as the Appalachian News Express or Floyd County Times, or even Pikeville Medical Center's, Medical Leader tell the area this film was on television. The viewers in the very area where this was filmed was not told by their local papers anything about this film. That is a shame and disgrace. I am waiting for these papers to say something. These papers have websites, contact them and ask them Why.

I also want to say that the David School is not the only school in the hills of Eastern Kentucky that makes a difference in Kids lives. Look at the Hindman Settlement School and its program for dyslexic kids. It, too makes a difference. Come and see for your self.

Les Hogg

Dear FRONTLINE,

Like so many other viewers, my wife and I were glued to our television for all 6 hours of the life of Chris & Cody. It was the most moving documentary either of us has ever seen.

As a former youth pastor I have seen all to often the damage no support at home can have vs what having a supportive family life can give. I believe Chris would have been just as successful has Cody if he would of had the family support that Cody had. As much as my heart cheers for Cody it breaks for Chris. They will both remain in our prayers.

Mike Gianopulos
Kernersville, NC

Dear FRONTLINE,

I, too, was touched and given to reflection by "Country Boys". Seldom, if ever, do we get to see into others lives as closely and personally as in this program.

However, my "take" is a little different than most respondents. Was Chris set up to fail his college entrance exams? Is a GED adequate preparation for an ACT? Shouldn't his high school counselors have known that he would fail? Why didn't they advise him to go to a technical or trade school? There must be some line of work that interests him, be it plumbing, electrician, carpentry, computer technician, auto mechanic, truck driver, etc. Even Taco Bell or Wal-Mart, while providing entry level jobs, offer advancement to those interested and qualified. A fulfilling life should be available to anyone who wants to stay in their home environment. Why leave that beautiful place, as many have done, only to hope to return some day?

A very worthwhile program. Thank you.

Eleanor Moe
Port Washington, WI

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posted jan. 9, 2006

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