Freedom Writers

            The movie Freedom Writers is based on a true story about a high school in California.  It is based on the book the Freedom Writer’s Diaries written by Erin
Gruwell, the teacher, and her students. The Freedom
Writers movie discusses what problems are caused by racism.  It starts with clips from the Rodney King
riots in Los Angeles in 1992.  This is Erin
Gruwell’s first year as a freshman and sophomore English teacher at Wilson High
School in Long Beach, CA and she is very excited to be working in this school.  It is located in what is considered a safe
place not far from the Pacific Ocean. 
Many students will do anything to go there because of its reputation so
there are rich students and the poor students. 
Although this school mainly was only Caucasian students it now includes
students from all backgrounds.  Mrs.
Gruwell was given the class of the “unteachable” students that the school
didn’t think that most would make it to graduation.  Many of these students were involved with
gangs.  The school would not provide the
needed resources for these students so Erin proceeded to find ways to purchase
the books.  She was told not to wear her
pearls to school, but she wore them every day. 
This is a story of how a teacher changed the lives of her students and
never gave up on them.  It is a story
based on change not only in school but also in how different diverse cultural
groups can change in their relationships with others.  It shows us how when someone takes the time
to care and support juveniles and to show them they are someone important that
they can change their behaviors and become successful productive

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            Although Erin was a new teacher and
all of the other teachers had given up on this class of Freshman English
students, she didn’t.  When all obstacles
were against them she kept pushing for them. When one student drew a picture of
another student, Erin pointed out that this type of drawing was what was used
during the Holocaust by the Nazis.  When
the students didn’t know about the Holocaust, Erin was determined to teach them
literature they could relate to.  She
laid a line on the floor one day and had the students line up if they had a
friend who had been killed, then two, three and four or more.  She asked them how many had been shot at, how
many were in gangs, etc. and most of the students lined up each time.  Then she gave them journals so they could
tell their own stories.   They had told her she didn’t know them so the
journals were a chance for them to write about their experiences. If they
wanted her to read them they were to leave them in the cabinet and they all
did.   When the principal of the school
wouldn’t let the students have the books Erin went and got a second job and
bought books that she thought the students could relate to.  She went to the superintendent and got
permission for them to go on a field trip. 
reading Anne Frank and visiting the Holocaust Museum and the Museum of
Tolerance it changed many of the student’s viewpoints on things. She then let
them have a nice dinner at the hotel with survivors of the Holocaust.   They
realized that when they died no one would remember them if they continued on
the path they had been on. The students wanted to write letters to Miep Gies,
the woman who hid Anne Frank from the German soldiers and for her to come visit
the class.   The students held
fundraisers to make the money for her to be able to travel to their school.
After she visits the school the students learn they should respect everyone and
to tell the truth.   At first Erin’s father didn’t want her
teaching there, but he ended up seeing how she 
was making a difference in the students/ 
  Erin’s father helps her when he
can with traveling with the kids and supports her in her efforts, but her
husband wants no part of it and ends up leaving her.  After many struggles, Erin gets to teach the
students into their Junior and Senior years of high school as well.  ‘

            The plot of the story is when it
starts with the Rodney King riots which had to do with racism, then it tells
how each of the students has struggled with racism, gangs and killings, even
the white student who is afraid for his life as being the only white in the
class and then ends with all the new experiences in the students’ lives because
they had a teacher who was willing to fight for them and how it changes the
view of the students so that in the end they are all united no matter what race
they are.  The juvenile system had more
or less given up on these students as well as the rest of the teachers, but one
teacher was willing to fight for them no matter what their race.

            Eva is the character I chose. Eva is
a Latino girl who is a freshman in Erin Gruwell’s class.  The first thing she notices when she enters
the classroom is that not only is the  society divided on the outside but inside the
classroom as well as each group whether Black, White, Latino, or Asian they sit
with their group. Each group protects their own.   When she was only 6 her father was arrested
by white police officers and taken to prison.  She was outside waving to a neighbor when he
was shot and killed.   Eva is a third- generation gang member.  Eva was made to go to Woodrow Wilson High
School as her probation officer said it was either school or else stay in
prison.  School is not important to her
and her friends.  Her gang friends feel
like in order to survive they have to remain faithful to their gang.  Each student in the class is unique and their
background has shaped their personalities. 
Each group does not respect the other groups.  There are many fights that break out at the
school due to racism. Eva was known to skip school often and she had been in
and out of detention centers several times. She has a probation officer.  Just going to school is a challenge as she
had to pass through different gangs. 
Surviving and protecting her own is her life.  She was against whites because of her father
being arrested by white police and then coming to school to a white teacher
just enforced her hate for whites.  As
time goes on and she sees how the teacher goes above and beyond what is
expected of these students Eva begins to understand and respect her as well as
the other cultures. 

            Eva’s boyfriend is Paco, also a
Latino man.  Eva and another classmate a
Cambodian girl named Sindy end up in the same store one night.  Grant Rice, a black man, is playing a game
and losing so is mad at the owner of the store, a Chinese man.  The owner refuses to give him back his money
and they argue.  When Grant exits the
store, Paco aims his gun at Grant who dodges it and it ends up hitting Sindy’s
boyfriend and kills him.  Eva is all about
protecting her gang and Paco until after Miep Gies comes and tells her
story.  At the trial, she says she knows
who killed Cindy’s boyfriend and then she proceeds to tell the truth and say it
is Paco.  After the trial, she is
threatened by her group and told she is not one of them anymore.  Eva feels like she does not have any family
anymore and is telling the teacher she is going to live with her aunt, but
could she stay later at night to study when Sindy comes in and sits by
her.  In the end, all of room 203 are
united and tell her they are her family. 
Erin has them rewrite their experiences in their journals.  When they enter school in the fall Erin has
sparkling juice and a bag of books for them and as each one comes up they are
to make a toast of how they are going to change.  Eva changed from being forced to attend
school to enjoying going and at first, she did not like her teacher Erin
Gruwell, but she was one of the students who wanted Erin to be her teacher in
her junior and senior year of high school. 
She had found someone who she could trust and didn’t let race stand in
the way. 

            Erin Gruwell was a first- year
teacher who because of her low seniority status was given the class that nobody
else wanted.  The class of what they
considered were the unteachable and that most would drop out and not
graduate.  The rest of the school had
more or less given up on them and didn’t like it because they were even
attending there as it gave the school a bad name.  The juvenile system had dealt with all of
these students in several matters and had given Eva the option of attending
school or going to detention.  Even
though Erin was eager to teach her class was not so eager and it wasn’t until
she found out just what kind of lives these students had led did she really
change her attitude about them.  When she
asked them to raise their hands if they had ever had a friend killed or been
shot at and almost all raised their hands did she finally understand what it
was like for them.  That is the moment
she decided she was going to help change their lives and make learning
fun.  At first the students did not come
back to school or respect her, but eventually, they all came back and were
excited to learn.  They wanted her to be
their teacher throughout the rest of their years.  She didn’t give up when the board was against
her and she won.  She fought for these
students and knew they could learn.  They
all ended up graduating.  When everyone
else gave up on them Erin didn’t.  This
movie shows how if juveniles are given attention and support they are able to
achieve more.  Every person regardless of
race, ethnicity, or gender is important and deserve a chance at learning. It is
easy for some to ignore the juveniles and let them go to a detention center as
they do not think they will ever change, but many are able to be reformed and
do want to learn, but are not given a chance. 
All some know are gangs and how to survive, it takes intervention and
someone who cares to change this lifestyle for them.  The juvenile justice system is not always the
best answer for some juveniles as they do not get the empathy needed or
rehabilitation.  People tend to look at
the crimes and not the person behind them and why they are committing the
crimes or showing the delinquent behaviors. 
It takes a good person like Mrs. Gruwell to care and show support for
those students and to help them reach their full potential.  

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I'm Colleen!

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