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At 'Rise' Documentary Screening, One Stone Teens Talk Student-Led Education

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After the screening, One Stone students and filmmaker Jon Long (second from right) answered questions from the audience. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • After the screening, One Stone students and filmmaker Jon Long (second from right) answered questions from the audience.
It's not often that Boise's Egyptian Theatre fills to the brim with middle- and high school-aged kids for a film screening, especially when that film is a documentary. But Jon Long's Rise: Voice of a New Generation was the exception to the rule on April 2. Half an hour before the screening began, groups of kids were gathering in the aisles, draping their coats over whole rows of seats to save them for friends. That's because Rise wasn't just for them—it was about them. The documentary was filmed almost entirely at One Stone, a student-led high school in Boise that Long called the country's purest example of the model.

COURTESY THE EARTH NETWORK
  • Courtesy The Earth Network
With a board that's three-fourths students and no set curriculum, One Stone is unique, and Rise gave parents, prospective students and the unaffiliated curious a peek into its colorful downtown Boise campus, zooming in (quite literally) on the passionate students who helped design it. If the film had screened without sound, the audience might have thought student-led education was all about discussion circles and the liberal use of sticky notes, but hearing the students' stories made it inspiration.

One student, James, described on screen how he'd gotten all Fs in public school before earning admission to One Stone, where he was hoping the atypical learning model would help him achieve his dream of becoming a child psychologist. Another, who had always earned high grades, said One Stone's student-driven curriculum, which revolves largely around projects with real-world applications like app development and business incubation, was more challenging than anything he'd done at his old school.

"Doing the thing is always better than learning about doing the thing without actually doing it," said Jared, another One Stone student. On screen, he played guitar in One Stone's recording studio and visited Boise Rock School during the school day to jam with his band.

LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
After the screening, a panel of students sat with Long on stage for a Q&A with the audience. Almost all of the questions came from 12- to 16-year-old kids curious about the bell schedule (there isn't one), how college applications work (One Stone sends in portfolios, because its students don't get letter grades) and whether their particular passions would be catered to (yes; anything you want to study, One Stone will work to make happen). When the Q&A ended and the One Stone students told the audience goodbye, there were still a dozen kids waiting at the foot of the stage to keep the conversation going.



Watch the trailer for Rise here

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