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Hidden Figures

Dennis Township 7th and 8th grade students enjoyed a break from the routine when their principal, Jamie VanArtsdalen, invited them all to go see a movie.

Inspired by seeing the movie "Hidden Figures", VanArtsdalen wanted to share the experience with some of her students.  She worked with Brett Denafo, co-owner of the Harbor Square Theatre in Stone Harbor, to provide substantially reduced ticket prices for her 7th and 8th grades and made the outing an official field trip.

According to VanArtsdalen, the opportunity came at a perfect time during Black History Month, shortly after the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, and around the same time as a great deal of focus for her middle school students on high school programs and extracurricular STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) activities for middle school girls through the American Association of University Women.

"I loved the movie and the message it sent," explains VanArtsdalen. "There were many valuable lessons to be learned from the story, especially since it is based on actual people and events."

Middle school teachers thought the experience was an excellent learning opportunity and many used the movie as a springboard for classroom discussion of multiple topics, including African-American history, STEM careers for women, and more.  Students overwhelmingly enjoyed the movie and seemed to understand and appreciate many of the issues raised in the film.

Denafo was impressed by the students attending the film and looks forward to working with Dennis Township and other school districts in the future.  He and his partners, Scot Kaufman and Quintin Bunting, believe that working with the community is important.  "We're excited to work with our local community, both to promote great experiences for our customers and for them to check out all the work we've done in the theater," Denafo says.  "I really enjoyed having these students here and hope they got something out of the experience."
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