West Side Story: What do you think is something they portrayed correctly?
GS: I thought they got the student angst right. All the students– everyone– was upset. The students were definitely upset at the outcome of the election, and not because of who won or lost, but because it was so different from what anyone thought. They got that right.
WSS: What is one or more things they got wrong?
GS: The thing I probably didn’t enjoy the most about [the segment in which] they said “a school in turmoil.” That characterization is just wrong.
WSS: How were you feeling, either day of or leading up to, that Friday that they came?
GS: I probably underestimated how much work it would take from my office or how much time I needed to spend with them to help with their production needs. That meant helping get the kids there. They needed a lot of help with location and timing of things so they weren’t in our way. So, keeping them out of their way was a little more of a hassle than I thought it was going to be. But that’s not what you asked, you asked how I was feeling–nervous anticipation, that’s my answer.
WSS: How did you feel when you saw the segment? Did you have a gut reaction to it at all?
GS: I didn’t have a really strong gut reaction. I had the opportunity to sit in with the students when they were doing the panel, so my reaction, I guess–I couldn’t divorce my previous opinion of what I had– but my reaction was that they had left some good discussion on the cutting room floor, that they’d left out some really interesting and good points the kids made in the hour and ten minutes they were interviewed.
WSS: Have you received any feedback from parents or teachers or otherwise?
GS: Not since it aired… I was going to say we had conferences, but we hadn’t yet, so I’d only talked about the process. I have gotten feedback from administrators and teachers and just a couple of parents and friends who had called me right afterward, and they all thought it portrayed the students pretty well, that they came off smart and involved.
WSS: At the end of the segment, Whoopi Goldberg said she would like to see this group of students meet every week after school to talk. Are you scheduling or anticipating to follow up on it with the students or otherwise?
GS: I have a couple of thoughts on that. The discussion that took place I actually thought was positive, the hour and ten, twenty minute discussion, and it was neat for the students to participate in that. I think they grew from it, from listening to each other. I agree that it would be nice that to be able to construct that kind of thing, but it will be hard to recreate. I will definitely be looking for ways to recreate those kind of discussions. My other thought is that it would be interesting to get eight adults in a room and have that discussion, you know, because they’re not doing it. And my last one is that The View doesn’t really do that either, you know? They don’t involve a lot of contradictory points of view on their show. So, it’s a nice thing from Whoopi to say, but as she knows, it’s a harder to do, because they aren’t able to do it on the show.
WSS: If someone were to see that segment knowing nothing about West High, what else would you want them to know about the school or the students that are in it?
GS: I guess I would stress that they we’re able to have these eight students, and the ones they interviewed–I feel like I could’ve chosen any student to do that–that are able to hold their own in very heavy political discourse. That’s what I would like them to know.