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Donations Needed To Fund Documentary On Outstanding Newhall Elementary School

Picture_1.largeDr. J. Michael McGrath Elementary School in Newhall has caught the eye of two movie producers interested in highlighting the importance of education amidst the outpouring of information on the state of our country's education system.

Ramon Hamilton and Jennifer Fischer are producing a documentary on McGrath Elementary and describe the school as one that statistically and in many respects, should be failing-the majority of students are on free or reduced lunch, more than half are English Language Learners, and more than 90 percent are minorities.

Statistics in the preview for the full length documentary stated that four out of 10 students at schools of poverty in California are proficient in language arts. At McGrath Elementary, seven out of 10 are proficient in language arts, while eight out of 10 are proficient in mathematics.

"The school makes sure that every child has an education," said Hamilton

McGrath Elementary was also recently nominated for a Blue Ribbon as a “Dramatically Improving, Disadvantaged School.”

Many believe that California public schools have lowered expectations when it comes to educational success but Hamilton says that this is unimportant.

"We are trying to show that public schools can work. Its not about wether or not people think they are working or failing, thats not the question," said Hamilton. "We just want to give people some insight as to what is happening at this particular school to bring about these types of success stories."


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The full-length film, "Underdogs: The Story of a Successful Public School," will follow students and staff of Dr. J. Michael McGrath Elementary School through a year full of hope and challenges. The school’s sixth grade students have presented a challenge to the school to reach 90 percent proficiency in California STAR Testing. If the goal is reached, the school will invite President Barack Obama to join them in a school-wide trip to the movie theaters.

To create the documentary, the producers are asking for help in raising money to fund the film. This project will only be funded if the $5,000 goal is met by Wednesay Feb. 9, 2011.

The monies raised will go directly to production costs, which will allow Hamilton and Fischer to support production values by bringing in additional camera operators and sound recordists for key events. Ninety percent of the donation (after Kickstarter and Amazon fees) goes directly to these aspects of the project. The other 10 percent goes to the I Have A Dream Foundation.

To learn more about this project and to donate, click here.