The Movie Diary

School is in session

By Dom Cioffi

We’re only a month into the school year and I’ve already found myself at a parent/teacher conference. Nothing bad has happened with our teenage son, but my wife and I wanted to make sure that he was on track before the year got too far along.

Cancer affects more than just the person it attacks, and in my case, my illness had a profound effect on my son – so much so that his schoolwork suffered. Now that our lives are back to normal, we want to make sure that he rebounds in a positive way.

Thankfully, my son’s new school educators seem very accommodating and were more than willing to talk to us and lend support.

The school we switched to is a charter school that utilizes a more hands on approach to learning – something that we felt would work better with our son since learning out of a book never seemed to fully click with him. So far, the switch has been wonderful.

So, this past Monday morning my wife and I hiked into the school prior to the day’s start to meet with the principal and our son’s guidance counselor. Over the course of a half hour they told us how much they liked our child and how he seemed to be adapting to their unique approach.

However, throughout the conversation, my attention kept getting distracted from things I began to notice in the guidance counselor’s office. When I first walked into the room, I initially thought it was messy, but I didn’t pay much attention because we immediately started engaging in conversation. Later, once we settled into our talk, my eyes started to look more closely

The first thing I noticed was a poster directly behind my wife, which was a stylized portrait of Colin Kaepernick standing at attention while a soldier was kneeling next to him with his head down. I stared at it for a few moments trying to understand the message, but it was lost on me.

No sooner did I pick up on that when I happened to catch a glance of two bobble head dolls on the window sill, one of President Trump and one of Senator Bernie Sanders. They were facing each, nearly nose to nose, like they were ready to kiss.

My brain was trying to process this odd dichotomy of figures when I was abruptly pulled back into the conversation to answer a question. When I was done, my eyes started drifting around the room again.
The next thing I noticed was another poster on the back of the counselor’s office door, which showed a cartoon Democratic donkey and Republican elephant holding hands while skipping through a sunlit meadow. I stared at it for a few moments trying to figure out what the message was, but I was at a loss.

Once again I was forced out of my room analysis to converse, only to find myself more curious than ever to scan the multitude of other items scattered about. When my wife started searching for apps that the educators suggested, I took the opportunity to adjust my chair to get a better view of the other side of the room.

I then noticed that the guidance counselor’s desktop screen saver was a picture of Homer Simpson biting into the Apple Computer apple logo with the words, “I Love Apples,” curling around his head. I found that especially odd since it was a Dell computer.

When our conversation finally wrapped and we were standing up to say goodbye, I couldn’t help myself and inquired about the odd mixture of items he had on display. He laughed and seemed surprised that I noticed, before explaining that he’d always loved the juxtaposition of opposing viewpoints.

He then pulled out a few other examples of his most prized possessions, including a painting of Jesus and Buddha playing poker, which I especially liked.

In the end, I found his odd hobby invigorating and, in a strange way, figured his challenging viewpoint would make him an exceptional educator and good influence on my son.

This week’s film, “Night School,” is also set in an educational forum, except this classroom is filled with misfit adults looking to advance their lot in life by finally getting their GED.

Starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, “Night School” is exactly the kind of knucklehead comedy you would expect. What is unfortunate, is that the two main stars have so much more comedic ability than what was displayed in this film.

Give this one a try if you’re desperate for a night out, just don’t plan on being very entertained.

A failing “D” for “Night School”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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