Paper Tigers: One High School’s Unlikely Success Story – A James Redford Documentary

A free showing of the film Paper Tigers will take place at the Lake Superior State University Arts Center on Monday, November 21, 2022, as the second movie in the Monthly Movie Mondays series, which is designed to spread awareness in the community of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), toxic stress, and buffers to promote positive mental health outcomes.  The doors open at 5:30 pm and the movie begins at 6:05 pm.  Admission is free and free refreshments are provided.  The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.  Guardians are encouraged to use their best judgment and may bring mature youth, although no official movie ratings are provided the movie is described as containing “some profanity.” 

James Redford documented the lives of staff and students of Lincoln Alternative High School in Walla Walla, Washington. Students at this high school had behavioral issues and poor academic performances and were frequently suspended from school.  After discovering the studies on ACEs, the high school changed its approach to handling students with kindness, understanding, treatment, and in-school suspension versus judgment, suspension, and automatic punitive punishments.

The staff at the high school take into account the students’ lives at home as children who suffer from ACEs, which can come in the form of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, and increase the risk of certain diseases, behavioral issues, learning problems, substance abuse, and early death.  These problems occur because the stress associated with these experiences can change the way a child’s brain develops. 

In the documentary, Mr. Redford showcases the social and human side to ACEs rather than the science behind the approach. The documentary highlights the presence of ACEs while allowing the students to film their own lives, providing a more personal perspective on the effect of their traumas as well as their struggles, hopes, and dreams.  It also demonstrates how teachers are helping the students change their lives in a positive way using new science and fresh methods. Paper Tigers is a testament to what the latest developmental science is showing: that just one caring adult can help break the cycle of poverty, violence, and disease that affects a young life. Paper Tigers is the companion film to Resilience, which was shown at LSSU on Monday, October 17, 2022.

The Monthly Movie Mondays series is sponsored by EUP Well: a Youth and Community Mental Health group a part of the Chippewa County Community Foundation.  The event is co-sponsored by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, My Michigan Health, Bay Mills Health Center, United Way of the EUP, 100+ Women with Heart, Families Against Narcotics of Chippewa County, Hope not Handcuffs, LSSU Arts Center, Chippewa County Communities that Care, Chippewa County Suicide Prevention Coalition, and the Eastern Upper Peninsula Youth Mental Health Committee.  This initiative aims to strengthen collaboration across community partners and educate the public about how to support the needs of children, adults, and families facing mental health challenges.Monitor the Soo Evening News and Soo Leader for press releases to announce the showing of movies in the Monthly Movie Mondays series.  A reception with community resources will be available before the movie in the lobby of the Arts Center at 5:00 pm.  Paper Tigers will be shown on November 21, 2022, at 6:05 pm at the Lake Superior State University Arts Center.  This event is free and open to the public.

Movie Trailer – Paper Tigers

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