|CHANGING MINDS AT CONCORD HIGH SCHOOL|
|Crew: ||Producers: Peter Barton - Screenwriters: Susan Weiser-finley - Cinematographer: Peter Barton - Editor: Susan Weiser-finley
This is a real story of change, remarkable change in a population often thought to be unchangeable, change brought about by a meditation program for at-risk high school students. Concord High is a transfer school in Staten Island, NY. A last hope, last chance to graduate high school; most of its students have histories of academic failure and trauma. The film follows the entire school as they participate in a semester-long mindfulness-training program. The additional twist here is that the students both helped to film the experience and conducted a scientific study - of their classmates! - comparing the effects of mindfulness training with that of a placebo group. It also included a science curriculum on the neuroscience of mindfulness - how it can change our brains for the better. Tracy Dennis, Ph.D., psychology professor at Hunter College was the lead scientist on this project, so the kids were her research assistants. Inspired by the concept of 'neuroplasticity,' they posed the question: Would mindfulness practice for just three minutes a day provide Concord's students with an effective strategy to regulate attention and emotions?At the start, the students, many of whom had experienced tremendous challenges, and obstacles in life, were failing high school. They didn't believe as a group that change for them was really possible. Our film ends on the day of their graduation. Said one reformed skeptic: 'Even though you can't control most of what happens in life, you CAN change your mind.'
Susan Weiser-finley is a filmmaker and educator. Susan lives in New York.