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Columbia High School Students Get Special Screening Of Oscar-Nominated Documentary


All Columbia Public School 10th-graders will get the chance to participate in an exclusive True/False experience.

Through funding by the Media Literacy Initiative, a 3-year grant started last year by the Columbia Public Schools Foundation and Ragtag Film Society, the students will see the 2017 Oscar-nominated documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro,” Friday.

Following the screening with be a live question-and-answer session with the film’s producer, Herbert Peck, and a “DIY Day,” which includes workshops showcasing media skills from filmmakers, artists, storytellers and musicians.

This screening of a True/False featured film for students isn’t new, according to True/False Education and Outreach Director Allison Coffelt. She said Columbia Public Schools and Ragtag Film Society have partnered over the years to create many enrichment opportunities for students.

This particular documentary will help them make sense of some more difficult conversations, she said.

“One of the reasons we decided to select this film, we felt like as a film, it was masterfully done, and it raises questions that are challenging and at times are a bit uncomfortable,” Coffelt said. “And those questions reflect the conversation that we as a country are having right now.”

She said that “I Am Not Your Negro” is pertinent to students’ everyday lives. 

Marketing manager for CPSF Claire Foster said the initiative hopes to create more thoughtful media consumers.

“It was really interesting, last year a lot of the kids, sometimes we would be afraid that they would be too shy to get up and ask a question,” Foster said. “But they were all really excited to learn more about the director’s insight and why they did certain things in a certain way in the film. And also talked about the topics covered in the film. I think you can expect questions in both of those areas.”

She said the Media Literacy Initiative grant also sponsors several field trips to Ragtag throughout the year and allows teachers to bring films into the classroom that relate to relevant history and current events.

Michelle Baumstark, community relations director for Columbia Public Schools, said all high schools across the district are on-board with this partnership.

“We don’t want there to be barriers. We want to provide exposure,” Baumstark said. “Having partnerships with organizations like Columbia Public Schools Foundation, Ragtag and True/False really provides additional opportunities for our students who otherwise might not have been able to take advantage of them.”

For more than 20 years, the Columbia Public Schools Foundation has supported outreach and enrichment opportunities for students. The latest Media Literacy Initiative grant is designed to eventually turn into a self-sustaining program in all Columbia Public Schools. 

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