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Unlike its subject—Chicago's revolutionary prep school Providence St. Mel—this uplifting documentary breaks no new ground stylistically, but the story it tells is urgent and compelling. In 1978 the school's then principal, one-time civil rights activist Paul Adams III, saved the former Catholic academy from being shuttered when he spearheaded a massive fundraising drive and reopened the school as a nonprofit private institution serving at-risk students on the west side. His extraordinarily successful teaching methods—instilling self-confidence and a love of learning through rigorous work, a student-centered approach, and a commitment to service—is thrilling, as are the youngsters who bloom before the camera. Rollin Binzer (Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones) directed. PG, 93 min.


The Providence Effect

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