Civic Life is in the news! Click
on the picture to read the article


Civic Life Project - Regional Meeting at Housatonic Valley Regional High School - November 12, 2015

"Mistrust" Screened at the Palace Theater in Stamford, CT

Mistrust, a short film, made by Stamford Academy Civic Life Project students was screened at the Palace Theater in Stamford before it's New York Premiere at the AMC Theater in Times Square on Saturday, October 10th.

After the film was screened students were joined by Stamford Police Officers, Sgt. Broems and Sgt. Brevard, for a Q&A after the film.  Students spoke about their experiences behind the camera, and how meeting police officers face to face face them a better understanding for who they were and the job they had to do.  The officers spoke of the value of the interaction with students the filming process allowed, as interactions like this are key to building the relationship between police and the communities they serve.

Sgt. Broems shared a heart warming story, of the first Q&A he participated in with this group of students.  He spoke of how after the screening many youth in the audience began asking very direct questions of the officers, which was good, but as the questions became heated, it was the student filmmakers who stepped in and defended the officers; explaining to the youth in the audience, that these were not the bad guys.  It was a small moment, but one with great significance for Brevard and Broems.  

The two officers have now begun to create an out reach program, that will allow them and other officers, to have more interactions like this with young people in the city.


Four Civic Life Project Student Films Official Selections at All-American High School Film FESTIVAL

Four Civic Life Project students have films made during the 2014-2015 school year, which are officials selections at this year's All American High School Film Festival.  The festival is highly competitive and accepts films made by students from all around the globe.  The festival will be held October 9th-October 11th in NYC.  For tickets & more information about the festival visit their website here.

The Civic Life films in the festival can be seen on our website:


Kemani Harriot, Classical Magnet High School: TRICKED & TAKEN

Elise McNair, Jayelynn Garcia, Malik Holman, Kamm'e Worrell, Jamere Brutus and Larissa Holcomb, Stamford Academy: MISTRUST

Max Casper, Elliot Sirchio, Jeremiah Callahan, Isaiah Hickes and Hadley Zuse, The Marvelwood School: TO PROTECT & PROFILE

T.J. Sullivan, Classical Magnet: PUBLIC CITIZEN

End of Year Screenings!

As we approach the end of the year students are working hard to finish their documentary films.  At this stage, students and teachers along with Civic Life staff & volunteers put in an enormous amount of extra time; this means for some staying after school to edit and lots of extra homework.  But all the work is worth it, when they finally have an opportunity to see their film on the big screen, to share with policy makers, community members, friends and family.  Students also have an opportunity to stand up and field questions at each screening, which for many is the culmination of all their hard work, that began way back in September.

Below is a list of the current scheduled screenings, with a list of the schools featured at each event.  Screenings are free & open to the public, as the goal is to encourage dialogue between youth and their community, with the goal of bringing about positive change.  Hope to see you there! :)


Screening Details:

21st Century Fund Screening

June 3

6:30 pm

Location: Noble Horizons | Community Room | Lakeville, CT 

Films by students from Housatonic Valley Regional High School


Salisbury Forum

June 7

11:00 am

Location: The Moviehouse | Millerton, NY

Films by students from HVRHS, Monument Mountain, Torrington High School, The Marvelwood School & Stamford Academy


Classical Magnet School

June 8

5:30 pm

Location: Black Box Theater | Classical Magnet School | 85 Woodland Street | Hartford, CT

Films by students from Classical Magnet High School.  Topics include sex trafficking, the minimum wage, campaign finance reform, child abuse and youth suffrage.


Year End Screening and Awards Ceremony

June 9

2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Location: Committee Room 2c | Legislative Office Building | Hartford, CT

Films by students from HVRHS, Classical Magnet, Torrington High School & Stamford Academy

Civic Life Students RECEIVE Honorable Mention At

White House Film Festival!

March, 2015

Hartford students, Ben McGowan and Shamar Mahon received Honorable Mention at the 2nd Annual White House Film Festival.  Their video titled, "How We Serve" was created with the support of Civic Life Project staff; and documents the outstanding work of these two students during their two years participating in the Civic Life Project.  Ben & Shamar's entry can be seen below:

See more outstanding students work at


March 5, 2015

As part of their documentary exploring whether or not marijuana should be legalized in Connecticut, students from Torrington High School visited the Capitol Building to interview legislators about this issue.

While at the Legislative Office Building students interviewed a working police officer who moonlights as a spokesperson for the organization "Law Enforcement Against Prohibition".  They also interviewed Rep. Srinivasan [R] and Rep. Peter Tercyak [D] about their views on medical marijuana, decriminalization and legalization.

The team from THS, upon completing this shoot, had their first Civic Life Project in-school session on post-production.  Civic Life Project staff visited their school to discuss the footage they have shot so far, and went over how to tell a story.  Over the weekend students will be coming up with possible titles for their film, and each student will also develop a potential tagline to complement their title suggestion.  

This is an exciting time in the process, where after all their hard work students begin to see the structure of their final film emerging.  For every group this stage in the process is an opportunity for creativity and discussion on their chosen issue.

Stay tuned!


January 12, 2015

Ben McGowan & Shamar Mahon interview Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey

Before the holiday break Ben McGowan and Shamar Mahon scored a big get, an opportunity to sit down with the Speaker of the Connecticut General Assembly to talk about the Minimum Wage.  

Ben and Shamar are in a unique position, as this is their 2nd year participating in Civic Life! This is the first time we ever have had students repeat the program.  It is great to see how they are using the lessons they learned last year to inform their approach this time around.  

Making a movie can be a lot of fun, but it also takes a great deal of time.  Ben and Shamar learned that lesson last year and the two were quick to get started right out of the gate this time around.  By the end of last school year the team had their topic figured out, and by this October were already scheduling and shooting interviews.  These two know how difficult post-production is, so they haven't missed a beat when it comes to the pre-production and production aspects of the project.

Below is a short video made by the Speaker's office:

All Schools Meeting @ Connecticut Public Television Studio

December 3rd, 2014


Students from 6 schools in two states, working on 13 different short films on civics issues met in Hartford, Connecticut to share and discuss their work so far this year.  As well as participate in workshops guided by Civic Life Project staff and volunteers along with staff from CPTV.  Workshops included peer-to-peer film treatment reviewing, TV Studio broadcasting, radio interviewing, and documentary interview technique. 

1st In-School Meeting of 2014-2015 at HRVHS - Sept. 2014

The Civic Life Project has begun our first round of In-School Sessions with students in Connecticut and Massachusetts.  Topics that came up in discussion included how to make high schools more "green", racism and the fall out after Ferguson, civil liberties and whether police should utilize wearable cameras, cyber bullying, human trafficking, and the minimum wage among many others.


September 15, 2014

The Civic Life Project has begun again!  This year we are going to try to produce 10-15 student films!  By far the most we have ever made in a single year.

Last week our instructors & mentors met with students at each school.  Students were asked to define what they think a documentary is, which led to a discussion on the elements of a documentary film.  However our most important discussion was on choosing topics!  We heard great ideas covering a range of issues, including police violence in Ferguson, whether to raise the minimum wage, how to encourage your high school to be more "green", human trafficking, investigating the debate over the new Common Core, racism in our communities and many others.

Everyone at Civic Life was very impressed with how engaged students have been so far, even at such an early stage.  At every class we visited every student contributed at some point to what were great conversations and debates.  After such a stellar week of in school visits we are all looking forward to seeing the films they create this year!

On October 1st students will be participating in our All School Meeting at the Old State House in Hartford, Connecticut.  Where they will pitch their ideas for the films they would like to make, and hear feedback from their peers from other schools, as well as from Civic Life staff & volunteers.

Check back here then, as we will post a list of all student topics!

Interview at Channel 3

July, 2014

Jill Konopka of Connecticut's Channel 3 News interviewed Kemani Harriott about the film she made with fellow student Ayla Albright on human trafficking in Connecticut, as part of a piece the station will be doing about this important issue.


Final Screenings

June 2014

Civic Life students have been showing their films at screenings and festivals in New York, Massachusetts & Connecticut!

Rough Cuts!

April 8, 2014

Though their films are still works in progress, Civic Life Project students gathered at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT to share the current cuts of their films.  Students engaged in discussions and offered each other their critiques.


Classical Magnet

March 13, 2014

Students Ben McGowan and Shamar Mahon, from Classical Magnet in Hartford, interview Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman.  The topic was the effectiveness of Connecticut's new gun control legislation.

Marvelwood in D.C

February 7, 2014

Students from The Marvelwood School went to Washington D.C. this February to speak to former Federal Officials about NSA Surveillance and Civil Liberties.  Following this trip the students went to New York to interview Jared Cohen, Director of Google Ideas.

Classical Magnet Students Interview Attorney Wesley W. Horton

February 6, 2014

Civic Life - Classical Magnet.jpg


Article in The Lawrentian

Lawrentian Article 021714.jpg

Civic Life Project Retreat At Lawrence University

January 12, 2014

Lawrence University Civic Life students participated in an intensive retreat at the Bjorklunden campus.  The retreat was led by Estrus Tucker and followed a model developed by Parker Palmer and the Center for Courage and Renewal.

State Meeting at Connecticut Public Television

Dec 11, 2013

Students from The Marvelwood School, Stamford Academy, Monument Mountain, Classical Magnate, Torrington High School, Housatonic Valley Regional High School & Edwin O. Smith High School met at Connecticut Public Television in Hartford to share their film treatments and get feedback from their peers and Civic Life Project mentors.

Civic Life Project invited to The Common Good: American Spirit Awards

Nov 15, 2013

Civic Life Staff & Former Civic Life Project Students were invited to attend the American Spirit Awards Dinner. Where they had an opportunity to speak to journalists from CNN and MSNBC, including David Gergen and Richard Wolffe, about the films they made last year!


Torrington High School Students Interview Voters On Election Day

Nov 5, 2013

Civic Life students spent election day interviewing voters in Torrington, at the polling place in Coe Park.

Students asked voters what issues were important to them, gaining valuable insight into local issues.  Students also were able to practice their interview skills, and gained experience using their camera equipment in anticipation of the start of production of their documentaries.