The Fighting Highlanders
Screenplay by Alan Nafzger
Lewis Hart’s best year was his senior year in high school in the late 1940s – cars, girls and sports. However, in his 80s now, he has failing health. His wife as passed away. His neighborhood has changed and his alma mata is now a predominately colored school. In the 1940, of course the school was all white. Now, there are only 6 white kids enrolled.
Politically correct reformers at the school are pushing for a vote to change the school’s mascot. They claim that “the Highlander” mascot is racist and outdated. The school’s principal does schedule an election for the students to chose.
Lewis was in the military and then opened a paint and body shop across the street from the high school. Aside from this, his life hasn’t been particularly notable; however, he certainly did pay attention in school. Lewis is very intelligent and living proof of the value of a high school education. Lewis is magically able to apply lessons to life experiences. And he can also apply life experiences to school.
Lewis is also proof of the value or cross generational interaction in education. Both generations benefit from contact in schools. The young people learn something undoubtedly and
Almost everything Lewis knows he learned in high school. He has flashbacks and remembers his Civics (government) teacher. He remembers his Vocational Tech (paint and body) teacher. He remembers his Elocution (speech and debate) teacher. He remembers his Home Economics (cooking) teacher. And he remembers his Art teacher.
He puts these skills together to attempt to try to save the mascot.
Lewis is one of the few local residents who served in the Korean War. Lewis speaks with history classes about the conflict. Lewis is articulate and works into the speech the proud tradition of the Highlanders. And all the lessons he learned at the school that helped him get through the war.
Lewis opens his body repair shop in the morning before school and invites students for a 25 cent breakfast. Soon nearly the entire school stops by in the morning. And also after school they stop by for a soda and a slice of pie. Lewis and his female friends from high school organize the best pie.
Lewis organizes four rival gangs, who have been tagging everything in the neighborhood, into a “Highlander” mural project on the wall of his auto body repair shop, across the street from the school. He calculates that if the artist and their friends spend this amount of time on a mural then they will not want to vote against the logo in the election.
Lewis befriends an Asian group of students. The asian boys have a thing about performance cars. Lewis works with the young Asians to repair and paint a 1970s Chevy van, the school colors. Then they airbrush the “Highlander” on the side. When they finish, and the young people drive it to the school parking lot, it is the talk of the school.
Lewis goes to a wealthy businessman in the community (also an alumni) and secures a donation of sports equipment. The school’s African-American football players need new equipment (shoulder pads and helmets). This is a tender issue in their mind because a star player with good chance to win a a college scholarship has dislocated his shoulder. Also a player has had a head injury.
Lewis is opposed by students, adults, teachers and administrators. Much of the opposition from along racial lines. This is a film about the politics of race.
The conclusion of the film is a school assembly. Were a student is designated to speak for each alternative mascot. Lewis has been working with a student who has had a fear of public speaking. Lewis explains to him what his speech and debate teacher told him to calm his nerves. Also, Lewis tells him several stories about the English oppression of the Scots. “Who says the White have never been oppressed? They were called Highlanders, but the Highlanders fought back and resisted domination.” The speech appears to persuade many of students that the Scots were just a minority population fighting for their place, just like they are.
In the last shot of the film, the students file out of the auditorium to vote.
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