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Freedom Writers
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Freedom Writers It’s a Saturday in February 2013, and where I live just got pelted with a foot of snow. Translated, that also means that the end of my driveway, thanks to the town’s plow, is three feet high.

So after spending a chunk of the day shoveling our way out of the driveway, I

wanted out of the house and out of the neighborhood. I don’t know what it is, but I always want to get out of the house and go as soon as the driveway is clear. Maybe it’s a feeling of being stuck inside during the snow, but I get this feeling every time it snows. I usually end up spending money going to the mall just because I want to go out.

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That usually means I end up at the movies, especially after getting paid on Friday, and Saturday night also being date night with my honey. I even went as far as looking up the movie schedule (uh oh), but hey that’s like grabbing a piece of chocolate when you’re on a diet. You can look at it, smell it, hold it, but it doesn’t  mean you need to eat it. And it didn’t mean I was going to the movies, just looking.

One movie I did promise myself that I could see and pay for when I started this journey is “Identity Thief” with Melissa McCarthy (huge fan of hers), but I don’t have to spend a penny. Luckily, a friend of mine, who knew what I was doing and had been given movie gift cards for Christmas, said she’d treat me.

The other movie I promised myself this year is “Iron Man 3,” because, well, it’s Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr.!

So, eager to get out of the house and do something, I talked to my honey and we decided to check out ON Demand – yes that would’ve been a slip up because it still would’ve cost me $6 – but there wasn’t anything we really wanted

to watch at the time anyway (except “Skyfall,” but they wouldn’t let us rent that yet). Thankfully, my frugal honey said, “Why spend even $6? Let’s check out what’s on Netflix.”

Freedom Writers

My 15-year-old daughter was also home because of the storm, so the three of us settled on a movie I already saw once, a favorite of my honey’s and a movie that my daughter hadn’t seen at all – “Freedom Writers,” from 2007 starring Hilary Swank and Patrick Dempsey.

The based-on-a-true-story follows a teacher, Erin Gruwell, as she tries to teach at-risk students. Her difficult journey takes the students on a path of self-discovery as they learn about the Freedom Riders, who fought against segregation during the Civil Rights Movement. They begin to journal as a writing assignment, but it leads to so much more, and not only do the students go through a transformation, but so does Gruwell. There’s so much more to this movie, including a touching time the students spent learning about the Holocaust.

Granted, I said I would watch movies and television shows that I’ve never seen before for this column, but I had two other people with me who wanted to watch something, so I had to appease them, too. However, I didn’t spend a penny and watched instead what I consider to be one of the best inspirational movies I’ve ever seen.

“Freedom Writers” is a movie you can watch with your preteens and teenagers for a family night. My honey has seen this movie more times than he can remember, but it was my daughter’s first time watching it, and she gave it an 8 out of 10 (we rate every movie we watch from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best). I give this movie a definite 10 and was glad to spend a night revisiting it.

If you get a chance, visit freedomwritersfoundation.org. What Gruwell did in one school has become the foundation of teachings across the country. Fantastic.

Total money spent on movies in February: $7.99 (for a monthly subscription to Netflix).

Teachers: Check out Film Education’s Freedom Writers Study Guide.

Here’s Erin Gruwell, the real-life person behind Hilary Swank’s character, giving a TED talk.

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