Students Imagine Little Rock, on Film

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THE differences in experiences for a group of Scarsdale eighth graders and the famed Little Rock Nine — the African-American teenagers who risked their safety desegregating Little Rock’s Central High School 50 years ago — are so vast that drawing comparisons would be futile.

Not only do the 13-year-olds in Kathleen Connon’s English classes at Scarsdale Middle School live in a largely protected and affluent community, but there is also one glaring difference: There isn’t a single black face among them.

Yet the 86 Scarsdale students have strived to comprehend on both intellectual and gut levels what it took for the Little Rock teenagers to brave hatred and potential violence to attend school, primarily by recreating the experience in films.

The 15-minute movies (Ms. Connon’s four English sections produced one each) were inspired by “Warriors Don’t Cry,” the 1994 memoir by Melba Pattillo Beals, one of the nine Arkansas students, and a school visit last October by Terrence Roberts, another one of the Little Rock Nine.

The movies — which have garnered interest from various school and government groups as well as Manhattanville College graduate students — are an offshoot of English and social studies curriculums that focus on concepts like victimization, courage and morality, as well as historical events from post-Civil War Reconstruction to recent hate crimes in neighboring Westchester communities.

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