Los Alamos High School (LAHS) student Tessa Snyder is the driving force behind the public showing and community discussion of a Race To Nowhere. The documentary highlights academic imbalance and pressures on youth.
You just have to love it when a youth-driven idea starts with a spark, and that spark is fanned to become a flame by multiple community adults and organizations.
That flame, started by Snyder, will hopefully turn into a fiery discussion at 6:30 p.m. March 27 in the UNM-Los Alamos Student Center Lecture Hall, with a community showing and conversation about “Race to Nowhere.”
The film, by documentarian Vicki Abeles, highlights the imbalance of academics and stress put on students that can become too much to handle for youth.
“The whole idea of making a movie about the stress put on high achieving students spoke to me, I know how stressful it can be,” Snyder said.
Snyder has rallied community organizations to assist with hosting booths at the event, so that those in attendance can walk away with hands-on items to help reduce stress, and information to help them think about the way stress shows itself and how one can handle it.
She worries about the stress of fellow senior students and was moved by the film.
“It’s almost like, whoa, there are other people in the country who are experiencing the same pressures we are here,” Snyder said.
She hopes to combat that by highlighting local programs that help youth learn to slow down, as well as youth development programs like Assets In Action and Family Strengths Network.
LAHS Librarian Ken Holmes was happy to help Snyder attain the license for such a public showing.
“I received the film through the school library and it was fairly easy, but I wanted the school library to own the film and screening license so that other students and school members can show the film in the future,” Holmes said.
Snyder plans to use the donation money from the film showing to benefit youth programs in the community as she knows this may just be the beginning.
KRSN AM 1490 and FM 107.1 is conducting an interview with the documentarian, Vicki Abeles, at 7:30 a.m., March 20 and a second with Snyder at 7:30 a.m., March 25.
Snyder originally saw the documentary as part of Margo Batha’s AP Language Composition class. She knew the topic was near and dear to Batha’s heart and asked that she become her faculty advisor for the project.
“Working with Tessa has been a joy,” Batha said. “I’ve watched her grow and mature over the last two years. She has found her voice with this project.”
Snyder has worked to implement this project, as well as attempted to survey students on their stress levels, the causes of their stress, what they do to reduce it and how many hours of sleep they wish they got at night.
Snyder has been supported by Batha during the film process.
“She is constantly telling me how proud she is of me and that really makes me feel good about my investment into this topic and doing this project,” Snyder said.
Snyder hopes her project will spark conversations between parents and their kids about student stress levels.