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"My Old School" Documentary to Air on RI PBS Tonight

Here's your chance to catch the documentary that chronicles the life of the former Woonsocket High School and the lives of the people who went through it.

"My Old School" Documentary to Air on RI PBS Tonight
It's a big break for a pair of local filmmakers tonight — and a chance for Rhode Island residents, especially those who grew up in Woonsocket, to reflect on their formative years in high school.

The documentary "My Old School" will be airing on Rhode Island PBS tonight at 9:30 p.m., and for filmmakers Jason Allard and Scott Gabrielson, it's an affirmation that their idea to explore the legacy of their former school is one that resonates through generations.

In an interview, Gabrielson said he and Allard got permission to film inside the building from the city of Woonsocket and once inside, they realized that their plan to collect images of the old building was just the beginning of something larger than them.

For years, they've been taking pictures and video of distressed landmarks. Some call it "ruin porn," others see it as a way to document urban decline and decay. But for Allard and Gabrielson, their time inside the building brought back so many memories of their youth and the spirits of all those who passed through seemed to be beckoning them to tell a larger story beyond the building itself.

Dozens of interviews and hundreds of hours of video later, the two have put together a remarkable story that is both an essay on the former middle and high school as well as a chronicle of America in the 20th century.

"You have the hippie movement, the 70 kids who quit school to go fight in World War II, from Happy Days to hippies," Gabrielson said. "When I went to school there we even had kids in the Black Panthers."

High school years are a defining time for anyone, and Gabrielson said his experience is similar to many. It's a time when people go from "playing with rag dolls to raising babies" and from "playing with army figures to fighting in a war."

In the film, Gabrielson said they explore stories that touch upon not just the structure in which they're contained, but also the people who worked and learned inside.

DVDs of the film are available at the My Old School Web site.

You can also follow the film and news about it at their Facebook page.

To catch the screening tonight, tune to Cox channels 08 or 1008 for HD, FIOS channels 08 or 508 for HD, DirecTV and Dish on Channel 36 and Comcast on channel 819.

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