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Booker High’s “Into the Storm” Picked Up by WEDU PBS

March 30, 2021– “Into the Storm” – a film created by the Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) Film & Animation department at Booker High School – has been optioned to air on WEDU PBS. The documentary will premiere on WEDU PBS at 9:00 PM EST on Thursday, April 15.

This is the first time a work produced by Booker High School has been selected to air on a major station. WEDU PBS covers one of the largest market areas in the country, with more viewers than almost all other PBS stations; it comprises six distinct channels and has been one of the highest-rated stations in the PBS system. The exposure for these student filmmakers is phenomenal.

“Into the Storm” premiered at the Sarasota Film Festival in April 2019 to critical praise. The documentary details the journey of the 1966-67 Booker Tornadoes basketball team to their victory as state champions, all set against the backdrop of the civil rights era and the desegregation of Sarasota schools. Prior to this time, Booker High School had served the African American community, founded in the 1930s by educator Emma E. Booker to provide an education to the city’s young Black residents.

Through interviews with alumni of Booker High School – including members of the award-winning 1966-67 basketball team and their coach, Joe Baker – a picture of the power of student voice in the face of brutal discrimination emerges.

The film was a senior thesis project for VPA Film & Animation students Carol Fauls (editor and director of photography); Lindsey Jennings (assistant director); Sydney Catalfino (screenwriter); and Kiara Harris (sound designer). It was completed under the direction of film teacher John Timpe. Lori Burton, of Booker High’s Film & Animation department, is a co-producer. The Booker High VPA Film & Animation department is a public pre-professional training program for students interested in pursuing careers in cinematic arts.

Since its premiere, “Into the Storm” has enjoyed a few revival screenings, including in the Visions of the Black Experience film festival – a collaboration among New College of Florida, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The broadcast premiere will be the widest release the film has enjoyed and will kick-off a two-year contract of screenings on WEDU PBS. 

Additional highlights of “Into the Storm” can be found here:


The Booker High School Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) program is an award-winning, public, pre-professional arts magnet program. Since its inception in the 1970s, the VPA program has offered intensive and rigorous arts training in an array of disciplines. Programs currently are available by audition in Dance, Film & Animation, Music, Live Entertainment Production and Design, Theatre, and Visual Art.


John Timpe teaches film and screenwriting in the VPA Film & Animation department at Booker High School. He has worked in media and education for 27 years, including as an adviser for an Emmy-award winning documentary short film in 2016. His expertise in visual storytelling and journalism has been an asset to the Booker High School campus, where he has been on the faculty since 2017.