Community reacts to ‘A Race to Nowhere’ screening

By By Olivia Parven, Contest Manager

A Race to Nowhere, directed by Vicki Abeles, is a documentary that raises questions and concerns about how students today are being increasingly pressured to succeed by parents, teachers, society and themselves more so than in previous years. The film was presented at the CHS auditorium Nov. 22 to raise awareness about stress that students might be going through and how to deal with it.
According to the film’s official website, Abeles wanted to create a film that would give students, parents and teachers a chance to voice their opinions about society’s growing expectations of students. The film was inspired by her children who were pushed to the breaking point because of stress.
A Race to Nowhere was presented by the PTSA at the request of the counselors to try to raise awareness of the pressure that some students today are enduring.
“Where the stress comes from depends on each individual,” PTSA president Geri Shapiro said. “It comes from parents, teachers, counselors and the whole college preparation application process.” 
 A Race to Nowhere also discusses the reason for increasing pressure on students to be successful. A common belief among many people, not only students, is that money leads to success and that wealth is an indicator of how successful a person is.
The documentary was alarming for some parents who were aware that stress levels had increased among students, but did not know the amount of pressure students place on themselves to succeed.
“It is definitely eye-opening, and absolutely makes me want to make sure my kids don’t ever enter that black hole where they feel so overwhelmed that it has contributed to health or emotional problems,” 1989 alumna and future CHS parent Amy Kossoff Smith said.
Many parents, however, were not surprised.
According to parent Sandy Roberts, the movie did not change her opinion because she already knew that school is a large factor in stress.
“We are trying to keep up with the world,” Roberts said, “This generation must be smarter and more focused in order to solve problems.”
 According to math teacher Alvin Figer, teachers are also seeing that the stress has a reflection on students’ grades and their performance in class.
“Teachers can talk and figure out if kids aren’t performing well or having learning challenges, and then find a way to help students,” Figer said.
According to the film’s official website, the film has continued to raise awareness about the ongoing issue, and Abeles hopes to make it clear that it must be resolved.
“We need to examine what our expectations are of our students,” Shapiro said. “Once this is determined, we need to determine if it truly has value and if it is realistic.”