Detention: It's the three-syllable word that strikes fear in the hearts of schoolkids everywhere.
But while students may find confinement as punishment for misconduct to be boring and meaningless, a new local film gives one fictional example of how it can actually improve young lives.
The Heal the Hood Foundation of Memphis, a nonprofit that provides positive outlets for kids through the arts, is releasing the short film Detention just a few weeks into the new school year.
The film follows the lives of three kids who have been placed in detention, using their stories to bring awareness to issues kids face outside of school that may affect their school performance or conduct in class.
"You'll initially think that they're really bad kids, but the story shows how all three of them are facing real-life issues," said LaDell Beamon, founder of Heal the Hood. "One girl is a teenage prostitute, and it's all because she was molested as a child. That behavior triggered a lot of things that happen to her. A teacher is paying to sleep with her.
"There's another kid who is a football player, but the coach has molested him since he's been in seventh grade. Another kid is selling drugs to take care of his mother and his family. He owes the mob some money, and he's running for his life," said Beamon.
The stories in the film were based on actual incidents that happened locally and nationally, such as the 2009 suspension of Booker T. Washington principal Alisha Kiner for tampering with attendance data, test scores, and transcripts, and the controversial molestation scandal involving former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.
"We were able to show what contributes to these kids failing and not being able to make it out of a lifestyle that they're in," Beamon said. "It's going to create a dialogue for kids to start coming out and saying, 'This is happening to me. This is what's going on.' They're going to start understanding that we have to take responsibility for our own lives."
The PG-rated, nearly hour-long movie was filmed at the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Transition Academy over the course of three days this June.
Similar to the plots of films Dangerous Minds and Freedom Writers, the kids in the movie end up bonding with their detention teacher.
"He goes into the community and tries to win their lives back," said Beamon, who plays the teacher. "He's in the classroom trying to combat their attitudes and other stuff. There are some twists and turns along the way, but it has a powerful ending."
Vincent Prince, the film's director and editor, said students involved in the street lifestyle, youths who have been abused or molested, and gay students would find meaning in the film.
"I want the film to be an eye-opener for viewers so they can understand that kids these days are really going through things," Prince said. "I want viewers to open their eyes and then do something more than just watch the film. I want it to encourage people in Memphis to motivate change."
The film is scheduled to be released on August 18th. An exclusive screening is planned for a Malco theater, but the location is still being determined. To view the movie trailer and get updates on the screening, go to hthmemphis.org.