At a remote Mojave Desert high school, this coming-of-age story watches education combat the crippling effects of poverty on the so-called "bad kids."
On any day at Black Rock High, "Pomp and Circumstance" might echo in the hallway, and a new graduate will march through a column of cheering kids whose pride and camaraderie are more than palpable. A diploma here is a momentous achievement. Principal Vonda Viland runs Black Rock Continuation High like a one-room schoolhouse. She knows the names and lives of each of her students and coaches them tirelessly through every stage of their journey. She doesn’t foster false hopes or dreams of unlikely riches. Her philosophy embodies empathy and realism, and given Black Rock’s rising graduation rate, it seems to be working. Her students' lives run the gamut of tragedy: unwanted pregnancies, abuse, homelessness; and unlike other teenagers, they view their high school education as a critical second chance. Most have been deprived of parental love and support, but the attention they receive at Black Rock motivates them to earn their diplomas and begin responsible lives. "The Bad Kids" is a day-to-day portrait of Viland’s work and the journeys of several of her students towards graduation and an uncertain future. It is not a story of triumph against all odds, because this isn’t the reality of these students' lives or expectations. It is a story of taking achievable steps toward pride and security. It is a story that the American educational system needs to hear and embrace.
Awards U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Vérité Filmmaking, 2016 Sundance Film Festival
Directed By Keith Fulton & Lou Pepe
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Source and image source: http://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org