Seniors watch “Escalation” film
June 7, 2016
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The graduating WHS class of 2016 viewed the film “Escalation,” produced by the One Love Foundation, on May 31 as part of senior week. The movie was shown in conjunction with the Lauren Dunne Astley Foundation Fund and the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) club at WHS.
According to 2016 graduate Nour Sayeh, a member of MVP, the movie portrays a college couple and the escalation of their relationship as time goes on.
“This film focuses on the warning signs of this domestic violence relationship and the unfortunate escalation it can have, which in this case is a heart-wrenching homicide,” Sayeh said.
Students watched the film in the WHS auditorium at 10a.m. on May 31. After the showing of the 40-minute movie, students participated in a 50-minute small group discussion. Aside from graduation and graduation rehearsals, the movie was the only mandatory event in senior week.
Wellness teacher and MVP club advisor Rachel Hanks first showed the movie to the club along with co-advisor and assistant principal Scott Parseghian. According to Sayeh, after watching the movie themselves, the members of the MVP club wanted to show it to the senior class before graduation.
“[The members of MVP] were all hit pretty hard by the reality and tragedy of this film, so we decided it would be an important movie to show our senior class,” Sayeh said.
“The film can remind our seniors that when they go off to college or into the world, they can remember that everyone can help reduce and hopefully prevent relationship violence,” Hanks said.
As an educator, Hanks felt the school had a responsibility to show the movie and educate the senior class. In particular, the movie reminds students to take action if something doesn’t feel right in their relationships or those of their friends.
“[These students] have the power to change some stories. We can all be looking out for each other, whether it’s our friends now, friends in the future or even a stranger at a party. [These students] can educate and give support to those who may need it,” Hanks said. “We want to remind them to trust their gut and to be an active bystander.”
Both Sayeh and Hanks hope the showing of “Escalation” to graduating seniors will become an annual tradition.
“[‘Escalation’] is an incredibly important film to show to every senior class to prepare them for their future and teach them ways to better these unfortunate and difficult situations,” Sayeh said.
As a wellness teacher, Hanks also hopes to integrate the showing of the movie into the wellness curriculum. Although she is still trying to figure out where it should go in the curriculum and work with other wellness teachers to facilitate the movie’s implementation, she predicts it may be integrated into the MVP course, a part of the mandatory junior wellness class, or at the end of each year “as a reminder.”
MVP consists of 10 senior student-athlete leaders. The club aims to provide trustworthy and responsible figures for students and raise awareness about domestic violence. The club sponsored many activities this year, such as speaking to MVP wellness classes, teaching 8th graders about healthy friendships and presenting on the topic of dating violence to athletes in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The club also started the MVP Wayland Facebook page and attended training sessions to further their knowledge on dating violence.
“This year has been truly amazing for both me and the other nine seniors in MVP; it has been great to be a part of something so important and bring it to our school,” Sayeh said. “We were able to accomplish all of our goals [for the year].”
“They pushed hard for this movie to be shown and didn’t back down. I am very proud of these students. I will miss them,” Hanks said.
Sayeh believes MVP members’ work will not be over after they graduate. She plans to attend Emerson College in Boston in the fall, majoring in communication studies and continuing her support of MVP.
“I hope to do a lot of work revolved around MVP [at Emerson College], and my major especially is a great opportunity to stay involved with my work with MVP,” Sayeh said. “Hopefully, I will have the chance to come back to WHS and help out.”
According to its website, film producer One Love Foundation is dedicated to “working with young people across the country to raise awareness about the warning signs of abuse and activate communities to work to change the statistics around relationship violence.” The foundation was founded in 2010 in honor of Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia student who was beaten to death by her former boyfriend.