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Surf lessons, life lessons in documentary screening for middle school students

Surf Lessons and Life Lessons in Documentary Screening for Middle School Students
Posted at 9:33 AM, Apr 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-24 10:58:20-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — From surf lessons to life lessons, students at Lakewood Middle School watched a documentary called "Uncle Bully’s Surf Skool" and asked questions to both the directors and "Uncle Bully" himself.

The directors of this film also directed "Big Sonia," which was about Sonia Warshawski.

Warshawski survived the Holocaust and has shared a message of love over hate with so many.

The co-director of both films, Leah Warshawski, is Sonia’s granddaughter.

“We’ve seen the power of what film can do to heal individuals and heal communities, and we know that 'Uncle Bully’s Surf Skool,' this movie is going to change lives,” she said.

The documentary follows surf instructor Robert “Uncle Bully” Kotter in Hawaii as he teaches surfing and much more to local kids, including some who are homeless. His lessons range from ocean conservation to local culture, kindness and even how to read and write.

“Honoring one another, circling back to love. In Hawaii, we call that Aloha," Kotter said. "I think respect and kindness and consideration toward one another is a really important message."

Eighth-grader Blake Baratta said the film left an impression.

“It shows that you don’t really know what anyone is going through,” Baratta said. “You can have a whole different personality and have two different faces, and you can be really kind but there can also be a lot going on at home.”

After the film, Kotter also taught a landsurf lesson to some of the students.

The crew has taken the film to a screening at Glenwood Arts Theatre and other places in the community.

After devastating and deadly fires destroyed so much of the crew's home, Lahaina, the team went back and added to the story.

They continue to try to raise money for screenings and awareness for Lahaina's recovery through a GoFundMe fundraiser.