The Ballou High School Marching Band is truly a gem in the harsh, often unforgiving, environment of Washington DC Public Schools (DCPS). As we set out to make this documentary, we made a very conscious decision to focus on what is positive here at Ballou, namely the Marching Band. With so much negative press we felt compelled to tell a different kind of story. We wanted to highlight the positive influence that the Ballou Marching Band has on the kids and the community. There is a common held belief in the media that the public will not respond to news stories about things that are positive and upbeat, but rather prefer stories about tragedy and hardships. This documentary film on the Ballou Marching Band will demonstrate that this is not always the case.
Although the Ballou Documentary focuses on one of the positive aspects of DCPS it is important not to forget the reality of these schools. They suffer from innumerable challenges and neglect. The Washington Post reports almost daily on these transgressions, yet little is done for our children in these schools. Ballou Senior High School, among other public schools in DC have to deal with these problems while being within 3 miles of the United States Capitol and the U.S. Department of Education Building, (with its front entrance that reads “No Child Left Behind”.) We have an obligation to ask ourselves the tough questions. How can a wealthy and powerful city such as Washington DC continue to have public schools in
such poor conditions? What are the real reasons for such neglect? Along with asking these questions,
we must then actually do something about it.
My hope is that everyone who sees this documentary will quickly begin to care for these kids as I
have done. Then, perhaps, we can put aside our indifference in order to help give these children the
the equal opportunities that should be available to all children across this country.
The band director, Mr. Darrell Watson, often tells the students in the band that,
“it’s not just music, it’s life lessons.” This can be said about anything we undertake in life.
In the process of making this documentary I have grown as a filmmaker and as an individual.
The Ballou Marching Band is much more than just a marching band, they are a close
family and like any close family, they will make you laugh and they will move you to
tears, they will offer you hope and they will leave you in sadness, they will bring you
joy and they will certainly frustrate you, and ultimately they will warm your heart.
I am grateful to the Ballou Band and staff for allowing me to be a part of their lives in the
making of this documentary. They have welcomed me into their family with open arms
and now I welcome you to join the wonderful experience that is the Ballou High School
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