South Carolina ETV

Southern Lens is a showcase for independent film from and about the South, culled from film festivals and presented by South Carolina ETV. By turns warm, humorous, compelling, and heart-breaking, each film presents a place and time in Southern culture as seen through the eyes of one filmmaker.

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Southern Lens

Alpha Class



Alpha Class is a film about high school students in a failing school system, facing daunting personal challenges in a time of economic crisis. It is a story of the power of an idea borne in the face of injustice to transform the lives of a group of bright, but challenged rural southern youth. The story began four years ago when Elon University President Leo Lambert opened the local newspaper and was shocked to learn of the potential closing of a low performing high school a few miles away. One year later, 26 of the most academically promising but socially and economically challenged students in the county were made an offer: trade one month of your summer vacation and nine Saturdays a month for the next three years for the training and opportunities that could launch you into the college of your choice.

Under the direction of university professor Deborah Long, the Elon Academy brought these students to Elon’s campus to learn the skills they would need to make the most of a high school educational system that was not prepared to deal with them.

The Alpha class has now graduated from high school. This film profiles four students from the class. Their stories are cautionary tales, balancing exuberant hope with the stark realities of being poor in America today.

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