The schoolwide showing and discussion of the Cultural Proficiency Team’s new diversity-related video, “From the Hills to the View,” has been postponed until next year. The film, originally scheduled to air today during a special third period, will instead be shown to senior English classes next week and to the rest of the school in November.
After numerous teachers who had seen the film voiced concerns about it and the accompanying activity, Principal Wynne Satterwhite decided to hold a vote at the staff meeting on Wednesday, April 29. Out of 88 staff members present, 51 voted to postpone the activity, 34 voted to show the film as scheduled, and 3 abstained.
“I have great concerns about being a facilitator in an activity like this because I feel like there’s a huge potential for damage if it’s not handled correctly,” math teacher Judy Strauss said. “I am not confident enough in myself, given the training that I have, to do this justice.”
Teachers and students who created the 35-minute film expressed disappointment about the activity’s postponement.
“I really thought they would have our back to be able to show this film, because why would they want to block something that’s going to make a change?” film participant senior Tina Lopez said. “Why would they want to not give students the opportunity to see things from [another] student’s point of view?”
Students who appeared in the film were notified about its rescheduling at brunch on Thursday, April 30. Satterwhite then announced the news by loudspeaker after third period.
“For something that was going to be this good for everyone in the school and knowing that they just want to shut us down, it gets me very, very angry,” film participant sophomore Angelica Cristancho said. “I feel hurt too because they don’t want to hear the minority’s voice.”
In addition to Strauss’ concern that teachers were not adequately trained to facilitate the activity, some teachers felt they had little opportunity to discuss the video and share feedback. Another concern was that the film exposed problems in the community without providing answers.
“Doing it right means not identifying the issue and walking away,” science teacher Adam Randall said. “[It means] identifying the issue and offering solution sets.”
The film’s producers, however, viewed the film’s purpose differently.
“The film is not supposed to stand on its own,” Cultural Proficiency Team member and English teacher Susana Herrera said. “We’re not here to solve the problem, we’re here to pose questions.”
Seniors, who are scheduled to view the film in English classes next week, will have a chance to provide feedback about the film and suggest modifications before the schoolwide showing in late November. Satterwhite hopes to work with faculty to help teachers who feel uncomfortable become “confident and empowered” in the coming months. However, teachers who feel ready may choose to show the film in their classes in the next few weeks.
“The fact that it’s not being shown re-enforces that it needs to be here,” Cultural Proficiency Team member and English teacher Ryan Ikeda said. “Silence is not the answer. Delay is not the answer.”
As originally scheduled, free hot dog lunches and a radio DJ will be in the quad during lunch today.