Saving Westbrook High
Suitable for any age
Theatrical Release: 10/20/2013
Reviewer: Dick Rolfe
Writer: Rhonda F. Baraka
Producer: Eric Tomosunas, Dave Eubanks, Keith Neal
Director: Gary Wheeler
Runtime: 87 min.
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Starring: Esai Morales, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Loretta Devine, Coby Ryan McLaughlin, Clare Carey, Brian Lafontaine, GregAlan Williams, Adrian Kali Turner,
Network Premiere Sunday October 20 7pm ET on UPtv - Manny Cortez (Esai Morales) has scrimped and saved to buy a two-bedroom home for his family - wife Teresa (Adyana de la Torre) and daughters Selena (Julianne Cabrera), 14, and Gabriela (Bianca Red Arrow), 12 - so that the girls can attend Westbrook High where his beloved late father was the basketball coach. Westbrook High is one of the top schools in the state, known for its extraordinary teachers and parent involvement. No sooner does the Cortez family move into the suburban school district, than the local school board announces that Westbrook High will close at the end of the year and be consolidated into a new, "super-school" to save money. This isn't going down without a fight. Charismatic English literature teacher Elijah Bennett (Coby Ryan McClaughlin) leads the staff, including devoted drama teacher Doris Howell (Loretta Devine), history teacher Sara Davies (Clare Carey), chemistry teacher Boomer Joseph (Brian Lafontaine) and Assistant Principal Robert Melville (GregAlan Williams). They soon meet the new principal, Dr. Christine Walker (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), who has very different views on education and the value of protesting the school board's decision. Years ago, Elijah and Christine were close as Westbrook High students and despite their differences now, a bond and some sparks remain. Perhaps the most passionate about saving the school are the students, especially shy and insecure Jasper (Adrian Kali Turner) who emerges as a leader. Selena joins the cause and learns why her father is so passionate about this school, her grandfather and her education. In the end, they all discover the value of family and community, finding a place where you truly belong and uniting to fight for the right cause.
This is a delightful story about overcoming adversity with faith, hope and friends.
Neighborhood schools are becoming dinosaurs in today's academic environment. Westbrook High is no exception to the financial pressures of public school funding. In this story, Manny Cortez makes great sacrifices to get his daughters into the school his family could not afford to send him, in spite of the fact that his father was the basketball coach there. The students and teachers are starting the new school year fresh only to be told by the superintendent that Westbrook will be closed due to lack of funds. A joint effort to save the school creates relationships between students and teachers who were former strangers and in some cases enemies as they join together to tackle seemingly impossible odds.
English teacher Elijah Bennett, a former Westbrook student, challenges his high school classmate, now principal Dr. Christine Walker, to catch the vision of saving their alma mater. However, he oversteps his bounds by stating that "School is about touching students' lives, nurturing them and guiding them spiritually." Christine swings back with, "This is a school, not a church. Your job is education not saving souls." She then confesses, "I'm not sure how finding God will help me run this school." The students and teachers, armed with faith and hope find creative ways of overcoming the challenges that seemed to doom their school.
We are pleased to award "Saving Westbrook High" the Dove "Family-Approved" Seal for all ages.
Other: Prayer; student caught with stolen goods; witnessing about the love of God.