Woodward, Okla. —
A documentary concerning the controversial issue of consolidating rural Oklahoma schools will be shown at the High Plains Technology Center on Feb. 7.
The screening of the film, which is titled "We Are Rural," will begin at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The documentary was filmed and produced by the Professional Oklahoma Educators Foundation and focuses on 7 different rural school districts: Fairview, Flower Mound, Minco, Lane, Peggs, North Rock Creek, and Thomas-Fay-Custer.
"We Are Rural" explores the opinions of educators, community members, and students from those 7 areas to get their take on how consolidation would or has affected them and their community.
The film debuted in Norman on Jan. 21 and was well-received, according to Daniel Cox, media consultant for the Professional Oklahoma Educators Foundation.
"It went well. We had several Representatives attend, we also had about 100 people in attendance. It was a big crowd and everyone seemed to enjoy it," Cox said.
However, the professional educators group is looking to reach an even larger audience, which is why additional screenings have been scheduled, including the upcoming showing in Woodward on Feb. 7.
"We wanted to get the information out and make it more accessible to that part of the state," Cox said about why Woodward was selected as a screening site.
In addition, he noted that since Northwest Oklahoma is home to many rural school districts, the documentary should be of particular interest to those in the Woodward area.
"If you're from a rural area, I think a documentary about the consolidation of the schools and its effect on the towns would be interesting and inviting for everyone living there," he said.
Cox said the movie screening will have the same format in Woodward as it did in Norman, with a showing of the documentary followed by a panel discussion.
"We're going to do a panel following the film where people can discuss the issues and ask questions. We're currently working on contacting legislators and Representatives in that area to attend, but as of now nothing is definite yet," he said.
Cox said the goal of "We Are Rural" is to spark an open discussion presenting both sides of the consolidation argument, to talk out the issue and people's concerns, and to hopefully find a solution to the recurring issue of school consolidation once and for all.