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Heartburn: Teachers and administrators at Central Park East 1 Elementary School are not giving thumbs up to "Music of the Heart," the new movie about an acclaimed violin teacher who taught at the progressive school in New York City's East Harlem.

The movie dramatizes the struggles of Roberta Guaspari, who taught violin at the school from 1980 until last year, to keep the music program alive despite budget cuts. But the portrayal of Ms. Guaspari as a lone champion for music education, at a school that has had a well-regarded music program since it was founded 25 years ago by the prominent educator Deborah Meier, has riled staff members there.

The critics are upset at the movie's portrayal of a school plagued by crime and filled with uncaring teachers. Some scenes—including a drive-by shooting—were fabricated, school officials say.

"It is totally salacious to say that [Ms. Guaspari] came in and saved people ... especially in a community as vibrant as Harlem," said Jane Andreas, the school's director. "The community was denigrated ... and our staff works very hard yet was represented as a bunch of lazy people waiting for retirement.''

Elizabeth Clark, a senior vice president for Miramax Films, which produced "Music" said the school it depicted was fictional and, in hindsight, should have been renamed.

Book Web: Beginning this month, high school seniors across the country can participate in an online yearbook project documenting what life was like for them during the last year of this century.

The Messages to the Future Project members are asking schools to have their seniors submit snapshots, home videos, letters, and essays to be uploaded on World Wide Web sites for their schools. The sites will be linked with those created by other participating schools.

The project's founder and director, Steven Van Hecke, has received sponsorship from First Union National Bank and at&t WorldNet Service, which created the host Web site. He said he has raised about $5,000.

Mr. Van Hecke has so far received inquiries from 40 schools in 10 states. He hopes to dedicate the project to the people of the next century at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in January 2001.

More information is available online at estothefuture/letter .html.

--Kathleen Kennedy Manzo & Candice Furlan

Vol. 19, Issue 11, Page 3

Published in Print: November 10, 1999, as Take Note

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