Film Depicts Struggle at Alternative School By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Earlier this year, students at Berkeley Alternative and Berkeley High schools joined together to challenge a decision by Berkeley High administrators to exclude BAHS students from several after-school Berkeley High activities. 

With support from parents and BAHS faculty and administration, the students worked to get that exclusion reversed. 

This Thursday the public is invited to the showing of a half-hour graduate student film documenting how it happened. “Berkeley Alternative High School—The Struggle For Social Justice,” will be shown free at 6 p.m. at the BAHS Auditorium at 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley. 

The film is the product of Lindsay Duckles, a Master of Social Work intern at the Smith College School for Social Work, who produced with iMovie on her iBook laptop. It is her first film. 

“I originally heard about the issue last fall,” Duckles said in a telephone interview, “when Berkeley Alternative students began saying that they were being excluded from Berkeley High’s graduation and prom. They were pretty pissed off. So I started filming them during regular junior and senior meetings they held at the school, and then later meetings with parents, and finally the community meeting at the school at which the superintendent spoke. We follow the process all the way through, from how the students got themselves organized to the eventual outcome.” 

Duckles said production of the movie “hasn’t cost me anything,” and Thursday’s screening will be just as low budget. 

“I’m making cookies, and [BAHS Guidance Counselor Mercedes] Sanders is providing the punch,” she said.