Three hundred and fifty Santa Monica High School (SAMOHI) summer school science students went to see former Vice President Al Gore’s documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which focuses on the issue of global warming.
According to SAMOHI PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) member Nancy Schmidt, several parents came up with the idea to give students who are in summer school the opportunity to see the film. They then contacted the company that developed the documentary, Participant Films, and formed a partnership with them. It turned out the company already had several people who had donated money for such a purpose, including Norman Lear, Dr.Richard Berry and Joel Epstein from the Reisnick Foundation.
Prior to walking over to see the movie at the Monica 4-Plex Theater on 2nd Street in late July, the students filled out a pre-viewing questionnaire on their attitudes about environmental issues. They also completed a post-viewing questionnaire after seeing the film.
The firm of Creative Qualitative analyzed the responses and found, “Overall, this group sees protecting the environment as a top challenge facing the country.” However, there was a difference between the sexes in the priority status of the challenge. Girls “choose the environment over all other challenges” while boys want it to share a top priority with such things as “reducing crime, preventing terrorist attacks and increasing racial harmony and justice. The majority of these students currently participate in activities that they consider environmentally friendly including recycling, reducing energy use and using public transportation or walking instead of driving.”
Creative Qualitative found the documentary increased “both the awareness and strength…that global warming is occurring” and raised awareness that the cause of global warming is “heat can’t escape the atmosphere. The film also successfully reduced the number of students who had erroneous ideas of the cause of global warming.”
In an interview with the Mirror, 10th grader Victor Dominquez said the movie made him “scared to live to 50. We should feel guilty about global warming, and if we want to change we must change now.” As a result of seeing the film he is going to “take the bus or ride a bike more often” and will be “encouraging his parents to get a hybrid car.”
Another 10th grader, Cheyanne Weekly, called the film “inspiring.” She “told my dad about the effect of driving” on the environment and now he is “walking a lot more.”
Louis Esclante, who is also a 10th grader, found the documentary “kind of shocking.”
Eleventh grader Martin Escobar said the documentary clearly showed “how much trouble we’re in with our environment.”
Nickolus Delarosa, a 10th grader, noted the movie “was captivating” and that “the vast majority of the information was overwhelming.”