Cinematic Class Act

Emily Griffith had been working as a substitute teacher for Denver Public Schools when she realized that some of her students were dropping out because their parents — many of them immigrants — didn't recognize the value of education or simply needed their children at home or work. So in 1916, she started a school “for all who wish to learn,” and that included everyone from Americans to recent immigrants.

What's today known as the Emily Griffith Technical College has had an English program since the school was founded almost a century ago. Today there are more than 2,000 refugees and immigrants in the English program, ranging in age from 17 to 72, with over 92 countries represented — “about half the globe,” says Kevin Mohatt, community relations manager at the school. “There are 72 different languages spoken in our program.” And Emily Griffith's emphasis on immigrants doesn't end there: The school has a transitional bridge class to move students from ESL to tech education, and scholarships to help them along the way.

To back up this commitment, the inaugural Emily Griffith Film Festival this weekend will celebrate “stories of immigrants and refugees” with five programs over the course of three days, including panel discussions, music, personal appearances and parties along with the screenings. The festival opens with a screening of Underwater Dreams at 7 p.m. tonight at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue; for a complete schedule and ticket prices, go to
Oct. 10-12; Oct. 12, 2014

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun