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National Contest for Teen Writers Held in Conjunction with DVD Release of "Freedom Writers"

Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2007 10:21 AM by Scott Jentsch

The Hilary Swank movie "Freedom Writers" will be released on DVD April 17th, which is a movie based on the story of Erin Gruwell, a high school teacher in Long Beach, California, who encouraged her class of at-risk students to overcome the gangs that divided them and the educational system that was failing them, and to tell their stories in their own words.

Timed with the release of the movie on DVD, Paramount is kicking off a nationwide writing contest by sending 22,000 teaching kits to schools in the U.S. and Canada. The contest involves writing a 300-word essay and one winner will be chosen from each of eight geographic regions in the United States to receive a $1,000 scholarship prize. Each of the regional winning essays will then be judged by Gruwell herself who will select a grand prize winner to receive an additional $5,000. One grand prize winner also will be chosen in Canada to receive a $5,000 scholarship from among all Canadian entries.

Press Release

Paramount Home Entertainment Launches National Contest for Aspiring Teen Writers in Celebration of the DVD Debut of Freedom Writers

Studio Distributing 22,000 Teaching Kits to Schools in the U.S. and Canada

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Paramount Home Entertainment (PHE) today announced that it is distributing 22,000 teaching kits to schools across the U.S. and Canada in association with Jordan Education Media to help further the Freedom Writers Foundation’s mission of creating opportunities for students to reach their full academic potential. The curriculum and student activities included in the kits have been endorsed by Foundation founder Erin Gruwell, whose story inspired the film Freedom Writers, debuting on DVD April 17, 2007.

As part of the kits, PHE is sponsoring a contest that challenges students to write a 300-word essay on their inspiration to change. Essays will be nominated for official entry by teachers in each participating school and one winner will be chosen from each of eight geographic regions in the United States to receive a $1,000 scholarship prize. Each of the regional winning essays will then be judged by Gruwell herself who will select a grand prize winner to receive an additional $5,000. One grand prize winner also will be chosen in Canada to receive a $5,000 scholarship from among all Canadian entries.

“I am thrilled that Paramount is working with the Freedom Writers Foundation to provide teaching materials to schools that will help spread one of our core philosophies: that a successful educational curriculum should value, uphold and honor diversity,” said Gruwell. “My hope is that this program will help inspire students everywhere to reach their potential.”

Freedom Writers stars Hilary Swank as Erin Gruwell, a high school teacher in Long Beach, California, who encouraged her class of at-risk students to overcome the gangs that divided them and the educational system that was failing them, and to tell their stories in their own words. The journals the students were inspired to write ultimately became the book The Freedom Writers Diary. The film features an outstanding cast of young actors, many of whom grew up in troubled circumstances and were able to draw upon their own experiences to portray Gruwell’s students with gritty authenticity. The DVD includes feature-length commentary with director/writer Richard LaGravenese and Hilary Swank, deleted scenes, the featurettes “Making ‘A Dream’”, “Freedom Writers Family”, “Freedom Writers: The Story Behind The Story” and a photo gallery.

Paramount Home Entertainment (PHE) is part of Paramount Pictures Corporation, a unit of Viacom (NYSE:VIA) (NYSE:VIA.B), a global entertainment company that produces and distributes filmed entertainment through the Paramount Motion Picture Group. PHE is responsible for the worldwide sales, marketing and distribution of home entertainment products on behalf of various parties including: Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Nickelodeon, MTV, Comedy Central, CBS, PBS and Hasbro and for providing home entertainment fulfillment services for DreamWorks Animation Home Entertainment.

About The Freedom Writers Foundation

Erin and the Freedom Writers established the Freedom Writers Foundation in 1997. Since then, she has shared her teaching methods with educators in an effort to replicate the Freedom Writers’ success in classrooms across the country. The Foundation has encouraged, inspired, and motivated thousands of teachers and students with the same methods Erin used with the Freedom Writers in Room 203.

The Foundation trains teachers and provides scholarships for deserving students with a key metric as a clear indicator of success - the reduction of high school drop-out rates. This epidemic is recognized by government leaders, major foundations, and educational institutions. Using the Freedom Writers Method, the Foundation is actively addressing the situation with proven results in cities across the country. Erin’s students graduated from high school and more students at schools throughout the country are graduating in higher numbers due to the innovative teaching methods taught at the Freedom Writers Institute. www.freedomwritersfoundation.org

Source: Paramount Pictures



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