Sundance documentary helps inspire students at SMS
Ross Sterling Middle School took 150 eighth-grade girls on an empowerment field trip to see the award-winning documentary, STEP. Veonda Mahoney, Ross Sterling 8th grade Assistant Principal, believes the field trip was a great way to start a new school year and the beginning of the transition from middle school to high school.
The documentary focuses on a girls-only step team from inner-city Baltimore. The movie follows the team members through their senior year of high school and chronicles their last chance to win a big step tournament, while juggling school, preparation for life after high school, and dealing with personal challenges. The movie has won multiple awards since its debut at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and is currently playing at select movie theaters around the country.
“It was important for me to take my 8th-grade students to see the movie because they often find themselves in similar situations of struggle, decision-making, and making the choice to set goals to succeed in life,” Mahoney said. “I wanted them to leave the theater knowing that anything worth having is worth fighting for and that they have their principals, counselors, teachers, peers, and community members rooting for their success.”
Ross Sterling parent, Candy Todash, had not seen the trailer before signing up to chaperone but knew this would be an important field trip for the students. “Anything visual or auditory is a great learning tool for this age group,” Todash said. “I think taking them to see a movie like this will help bond the students and empower them to have positive attitudes, confidence, and to learn from each other’s differences.”
Kimberly Ferguson, Ross Sterling eighth grader, knows what it’s like to be on an all-girls team and was excited to see the movie for the first time.
“I’m involved in both volleyball and band so I make sure to work hard in school because if I don’t I can’t participate,” Ferguson said. “I’m also volleyball team captain, so I have a lot of responsibility to do well and encourage my teammates to do the same.”
The girls poured into the movie theater sporting hot pink shirts displaying the words, “STEP - Success, Thrive, Empower, Positive. Every journey needs a first STEP.” The t-shirts will serve as both a reminder and souvenir from their empowerment field trip together.