The Science and Technology High School in Springfield, Massachusetts has its problems – its dropout rates are so high and its standard test scores so low that the state rates it Level 4. (The graduation rate was 39% but has gone up to 45% recently.) At Level 5 the state has the right to take over the school if it doesn't make measurable improvements within three yearsBut the school band (yes, the school band) has proven an unlikely ray of hope and a source of pride for SciTech, and for the city of Springfield. Eight years ago the band didn’t exist – today, under the leadership of the young, charismatic and decidedly nerdy Gary Bernice, the 500-member band is flourishing. And while the school graduation rate remains a disheartening forty-five percent, band members who last at least a year with the band graduate at a rate of ninety-five percent.
What accounts for this? Leadership? Loyalty? Music? Our film asks that question as it follows the SciTech Band from the first day of practice to the winter holiday concert that takes place just three months later. In that concert, everyone performs, even the beginners who, three months earlier, had never touched an instrument.
All funds go to Springfield Schools Volunteers, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, so all contributions are tax-deductible. You can send a check if you like as well. Please see "Frequently Asked Questions" below for information on how to do so.
Risks and challenges
We’ve been scouting for over a year, and have been filming since school started in late August. Gary and the students are excited by the process, and surprisingly forthcoming about their challenges in the band, in school and at home. We’re asking the kids to share some pretty tough stories, and the school to be open about the precarious position it is in today.
Our production schedule is fast – the first shoot was August 18th, 2014 and we plan to complete the film by this coming spring. There’s a reason to move quickly. The school’s status is shaky, and while no film will rescue a school from closure, we want to tell the story of a remarkably positive program that, for seven years, has rocked the halls of SciTech.
At the end of each practice, Gary Bernice launches into a rhythmic chant and the kids, all together, jump to their feet and respond. “Eyes front, feet together, chest out, shoulders back, who’s got the best band? SciTech. SciTech, SciTech!”
We agree, and you will too.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (60 days)