“Voices of Stagg” a documentary about an educational experiment at A. A. Stagg High School, will premiere on Aug. 2, 2016, 7 p.m. at the school, 8015 W. 111th Street, Palos Hills, Illinois. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited.

The film was created by Kenneth Erdey, a journalism instructor in the College of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Erdey spent two years following the creation of a new class and its first project.

The concept for the class grew from the loss of a teacher at the school. In dealing with that loss, the school experienced an overwhelming feeling of empathy. They wanted to recapture that feeling and created a committee to explore options. Erdey learned about the project from his wife, Carla Phelan-Erdey a 1996 graduate of the journalism program in the College of Media at Illinois.

“I went to listen to what these kids were talking about,” Erdey said. “They weren’t just bringing up storytelling. They were talking about race. They were talking about cliques. They were talking about what makes someone racists, what makes someone not understand.”

A class was created – VOW: Voices of Witness – in which students recorded oral histories and produced a book. The two instructors, Lisa Thyer and Chris Wendelin, along with Erdey, will speak at the premiere. Thyer is a 2006 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Science at Illinois.

The film is “a little bit of a memorial,” Erdey said. “It’s a story about friendship, education, storytelling and being a kid. What they are doing is changing the philosophy of what I know as education.”

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