by Joan Andrews
South Hills Public Relations Specialist
STATE COLLEGE — The State Theatre in downtown State College opened its doors to all students and employees of South Hills School of Business & Technology on December 20, where The Mazza Foundation for Education sponsored a special showing of the documentary, “Becoming Bulletproof.” The movie was also simulcast at both the Altoona and Lewistown campuses.
This film documents the making of an original Western film called “Bulletproof”, which was shot on a western-style movie set in California. The film features actors with and without disabilities, who meet every year at Zeno Mountain Farm to write, produce, and star in original films.
Founded by two brothers and their wives, Zeno Mountain Farm’s philosophy is to create a truly inclusive community that builds genuine friendships that transcend stigma and stereotypes. For this group, their films aren’t about making a statement; “It’s all about making movies.”
Inside the whirlwind filmmaking process of mastering lines, pushing through take after take, and grappling with high expectations, “Becoming Bulletproof” chronicles the movie-making process as it personally and socially transforms all individuals involved in making the film.
A question & answer session followed the viewing of the film, where students were given the opportunity to ask questions of a guest panel comprised of Peter Halby, co-founder of Zeno Mountain Farms, along with cast members Ajani (AJ) Murray, his mother, Cynthia McFadden; Michael Heard, and his mother, Jennifer Davis.
Numerous educational and social services groups were also invited by South Hills to view the inspirational film. One retired special education instructor told the guest panel she only wished she had known earlier about the wonderful work done by the dedicated team at Zeno Mountain Farm for her to share with her students.
Watching this documentary was a moving and inspirational experience for many South Hills students who perhaps haven’t experienced interacting with individuals with special needs. South Hills’ Director, Mark Maggs, had many people in agreement with him when he stated he found himself overcome with “major allergy attacks,” resulting in teary eyes throughout the movie.
“Becoming Bulletproof” was shown prior to the holidays, and for many, it was a priceless gift that will have a lifelong impact.
Kari Schlegel was born in March 1992 and graduated from South Hills in September 2012.
The Kari Lynn Schlegel Memorial Gallery is named in memory of Kari Schlegel, a lifelong Bellefonte resident and 2012 graduate of the Graphic Arts program at South Hills.
Kari was often the exclamation point in any story about the Class of 2012. Her effervescent good mood, enthusiasm, and seemingly endless supply of optimism and positive spirit was infusive, lighting up the classroom.
Kari (right) is shown with her beloved sister, Mindy.
Her classmates still laugh at the memory of Kari wearing her bunny slippers on the Graphic Arts field trip to New York City. Groan-worthy puns and jokes? Kari had a volume of them. She delighted in sharing stories and photos of her four beloved cats as well as trivia and tales of Harry Potter and Disney World. She was a rare combination of innocence, maturity, trust, and hope. She was filled with a joy of life and an unconditional love for her friends, her family, her pets… and people she just met. That was Kari Schlegel.
Kari dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow for the South Hills “BooFest” Halloween party in 2012.
She loved her school, even coming back to audit several GA classes after graduating. Kari also particularly enjoyed returning to South Hills every summer to perform as part of the Music Picnic Series with the Bellefonte Community Band.
Kari died December 15, 2016, in a tragic automobile accident. It’s a loss everyone who knew her still feels. In the end, Kari truly lived her life with passion and joy, treating others as she wanted to be treated: with love, compassion, and respect.