Move toward electrification topic of new Four Rivers documentary

  • Seated speaker Sasha Santiago of the Brooklyn Microgrid speaks to Four Rivers Charter Public School students Xihu Arfa and Ben Laroche about electrification during the filming process. Contributed photo

  • (From left to right) Four Rivers Charter Public School students Ben Laroche, Elsie Almeida, Evan Leaf and Jon Freeman interview Jim Misewich, associate lab professor of energy sciences, as they film their documentary “Electrify Everything.” Contributed photo

  • Adam Sadowski speaks to Four Rivers Charter Public School students Xihu Arfa and Evan Leaf at the Ravenwood Power Generation Station about electrification for the students’ film project. Contributed photo

Staff Writer
Published: 2/11/2020 5:53:34 PM

GREENFIELD — Thirty-four students at Four Rivers Charter Public School have been investigating what they view as one of the most vital steps in addressing the climate change and energy crises, and are now unveiling a documentary on the topic.

“Electrify Everything,” which focuses on the movement toward electrification by following experts from Massachusetts, Vermont and New York who are leading the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, will be screened Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Garden Cinemas.

The students were responsible for all stages of the documentary, from initial creative planning to filming and post-production. In December, groups traveled to Boston, Burlington, Vt., New York City, and Albany, N.Y. to interview scientists, engineers, politicians and activists for the documentary.

This is the sixth year students at Four Rivers have done a documentary film project focusing on energy. English teacher Leah Plath said the project requires students to work together and become experts on their respective task — whether it be interviewing, audiovisuals, script-writing or other roles.

“We had four teams divided to go to 16 locations over three days, and then worked on the post-producing, then rough cut of the five chapters,” Plath said. “It was a real team effort, involving a lot of collaboration. I’m excited to see how far it’s come. ... This is the most technical topic selected yet, and it speaks to the depth of the work and the nuance understood by the group.”

Seniors involved in producing the documentary said they hope people come to Thursday’s screening to learn about electricity and energy.

“It’s essentially a movie exploring one important way our country can get off of fossil fuels,” said senior Rufus Seward. “Any combustible engine can be used and moved to electricity, which is getting cleaner, too.”

Seward said creating and culling the narrative was a great process.

“Working with the team of five other people, we’ve been writing essays throughout school and we learned to translate to the screen,” he said. “I think we ended in a decent place.”

Senior Noah Pitcoff said he enjoyed conducting interviews of experts on electrification.

“I enjoyed talking to the professionals, then reporting on what they’re doing and the information about electrification,” Pitcoff said.

Another senior, Nicholas LaCoy, said an average person will be able to take away a lot of information from the film.

“People will see how their day-to-day life will be impacted and changed,” LaCoy explained. “There will be differences in vehicles, how heat in your home will change in the next 30 years.”

Senior Isaiah Newcomb said he sees a political connection as well.

“Electrification is a big part of the Green New Deal, for anyone following that,” he said. “If people care about that, they might want to learn about how it works. This is a huge reality folks will face in the future.”

The one-night show will begin at 7 p.m., with a gallery walk of student work preceding the screening. Tickets are $9.50 for adults and $8.50 for students and seniors, and proceeds benefit the Four Rivers Sustainability Fund.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at or
413-772-0261, ext. 263.

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