2015-06-25 / Front Page

Thompson Students Rule Red Carpet at the Pickens


Manny Simes and John Pires Manny Simes and John Pires They literally rolled out the red carpet at the Jane Pickens Theater last week – and no, it wasn’t for Woody or Emma or Joaquin, it was to celebrate the 150 Thompson Middle School sixth graders who spent months working on documentaries that focused on city issues.

TMS Oscar Night honored the top 14 of more than 30 films made this spring. During the “Truths and Dares” themed projects, groups of five to six students researched topics of local importance, interviewed subject matter experts, and wrote, filmed and produced documentaries. Areas of interest ranged from foster care to water pollution to mansions and tourism, and even to military families, touching on factors impacting life across the economic spectrum of the city. The students examined how such topics are perceived and then explored the truths behind the stories and perceptions. More than 200 members of the community were involved in the initiative.


Amanda Erno and Michael Phelps Amanda Erno and Michael Phelps “The community really came together to support our students,” said Tina Brownell, a Thompson reading teacher heavily involved in the project.“People came out of the woodwork to help in recent months. We even had gowns donated for Oscar night; boys were learning how to tie ties all afternoon. The excitement was palpable.”

Although the skies opened up and it poured, the rain couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the students or their families, who turned out in force to view selected films. More than 400 people packed the theater to see the students’ work and recognize the award winners. Community leaders ranging from Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano to Clean Ocean Access environmental activist David McLaughlin presented the Oscars, and Betty Wright, former director of Lucy’s Hearth, and Community Police Officer Jimmy Winters spoke to the importance of the students’ work.


Mikayla Toppa Mikayla Toppa Brownell lauded all involved. “It is remarkable how the community has come together to support essential needs of the 21st century middle school student by supporting literacy, digital literacy. We live in a digital age and digital technology is what sparks the kids’ interest – and gets them excited about learning.”

The project ties in with the school’s digital technology expectations, and is part of a broader program with the Jane Pickens Theater and newportFILM.

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