Saturday, July 11, 2020

From Adolescence to Advocacy: The Documentary

We have all seen a major shift in educational thinking this spring as schools flipped on a dime to remote learning due to the global pandemic. It has caused major conversations in educational circles about best ways to provide engaging education.

I recently read Prepared: What Kids Need For a Fulfilled Life by Diane Tavenner, cofounder of the innovative Summit Public Schools network of 15 middle and high schools in California and Washington state. Some of the principles of Summit are far different than many schools out there (including mine), but I found a striking similarity that aligns with my school, especially in the area of student-directed pursuits of passion projects.

Last summer, when I shared the student-created documentary "STEMinism," I described the Severn School Van Eney Fellows Program that our school has sponsored annually since 2009. High School Seniors are invited to present a project proposal of which they are passionate about, in hopes of being selected to take on this individual, in-depth, year-long project. The Fellows Program has inspired over a decade's worth of students to do a deeper dive on a personal pursuit. Much like Google's 20% Time or the educational trend of Genius Hour, the purpose is to "expand intellectual curiosity." Of the 11 projects developed this year, the focus of this post and my next two will be on 3 of these student-created Fellows Projects.

"From Adolescence to Advocacy" is the one hour documentary from Mackenzie Boughey. During her high school career, Mackenzie became deeply empowered, impassioned, and enraged by the number of mass shootings striking our nation--particularly in the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. As a result, in 2018 she founded March for Our Lives: Annapolis, MD. Through her work raising awareness for common-sense gun legislation via town hall meetings and community marches, she got a first-and, inside look at activism. This led to her desire to learn more. Her documentary showcases both thoughts from student activists and governmental officials (from the 1960s to present) by way of interviews. Social movements she includes are Civil Rights/racial relations, anti-Vietnam War sentiment, LGBTQ+ rights, environmental protections, and common-sense gun reform.

Here is a brief 6 minute TED Talk style video explanation of her documentary.

Van Eney '09 Fellows: Mackenzie Boughey '20 from Severn School on Vimeo.

To view the "From Adolescence to Advocacy" documentary in its entirety, watch it here or go here for an online screening and question & answer panel on July 15th at 7pm, hosted by the Arundel Patriot. You can learn more about this screening via Arundel Patriot's Facebook Event.

Additionally, you can learn more about Mackenzie's process from her Fellows website.

In looking at all the conversation and controversy of racial relations currently in American, Mackenzie certainly had her finger on the pulse of activism given the number of racial protests we have seen this spring. May Mackenzie and her documentary inspire you to stand up for what you believe in... and may it inspire you to vote!

Images from:, "Adolescence to Advocacy" image created on using images from Mackenzie Boughey's website:, and; and, Video from

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