Directed by Frederick Wiseman (USA, 1994, 220 min.). 16mm.

High School II is a film about Central Park East Secondary School (CPESS), a successful alternative high school in New York’s Spanish Harlem, 85 to 95 percent of whose graduates go on to four-year colleges. The film illustrates the school’s emphasis on the Habits of Mind program—weighing evidence, awareness of multiple points of view, seeing connections and relationships, speculating on possibilities, and assessing values. Sequences illustrating the school’s approach to learning include: classroom activities in the humanities and sciences; family conferences; discussions of race, class, and gender; faculty meetings; disciplinary problems; sex education; conflict resolution by students; and student council meetings.

“Mr. Wiseman is now a master of the epic documentary. [CPESS] … urges its students, a multiracial mix that includes political organizers and teenage parents, to talk, listen, and think for themselves.” —Caryn James, The New York Times


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