In 2016 approximately fifteen eighth grade students at Saint Francis De Sales School in Southwest Philadelphia had the opportunity to work on a documentary project titled, “Bridging the Gap.” They teamed up with filmmakers/producers Steve McWilliams, John Stefanic, and Matthew Marencik from “Youth Solution Films” located in Havertown (Delaware County). A screening for current students, faculty, and staff followed by a question and answer session with students and producers who worked on the film will be held at Saint Francis De Sales.
This program and documentary grew out of the Report on 21st Century Policing that was commissioned by then-President Barack Obama. The report co-chairperson former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey studied trending community and law enforcement issues. The result was a series of dramatic recommendations for a productive, evolving relationship between police and local communities. In addition to several students featured in the documentary returning to their alma mater for the screening and Q&A, Deputy Police Commissioner Robin Wimberly from the Philadelphia Police Department will also participate.
Since its release the documentary has been screened for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and a screening has been scheduled for March 8th for members of the United States Department of Justice according to “Youth Solution Films.”
The fifteen students from Saint Francis De Sales have since graduated and currently attend the following area high schools: West Catholic Preparatory High School in West Philadelphia, Roman Catholic High School for Boys in Center City, Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast Catholic High School in Drexel Hill (Delaware County), and West Philadelphia High School.
Editor’s Notes: To view the official trailer for the film please visit: https://vimeo.com/154268595. For more information on Saint Francis De Sales School please visit: http://www.desalesschool.net/. For information about Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, please visit https://aopcatholicschools.org/.