A 12-year-old girl suffering from stress-induced stomach aches; a third grade boy in tears after struggling over hours of homework; and a high school student overcome by the pressure to get into an Ivy League university.
Many of these parents now say they are ready to organize and push for a change in homework loads and work towards reducing the academic pressure felt by many students in the community.
Producer and Co-Director Vicki Abeles, a mother who has watched each of her three kids battle academic stress, lends her personal insight to an issue that's being discussed and deeply felt across the country.
"Race to Nowhere" features interviews with parents, teachers and students discussing the pressures of memorizing information for tests, participating in many activities to pad a college application and overloading on advanced placement tests.
"The worst question you can ask your kid is 'And'," said one high school student in the film. She gives an example as a child saying, "I made the volleyball team," and a parent responds with, "And?"
The film features both stressed out students and exhausted parents, who want their same successes for their children but are unsure of how best to support their kids.
Clinical Psychologist Dr. Margot Richters, who led a discussion in the auditorium following the film, said she has seen these same signs in our own community.
"I used to have the troubled boys. Now it's the girls with depression and stressed out parents and teachers," Richters said.
Several parents in the room agreed with the feeling of frustration and helplessness with their own children. Many parents agreed that as parents they feel the same pressure.
"It's a miracle to see so many people here because I believe that I am alone in this," said one mother, who recounted her surprise when her elementary school child said a counselor had recently spoken to his class about applying to college.
"We need to find a way to connect and to speak up and say we need to make a change," said another mother.
The film has been shown at several other high schools in the county, including Churchill, Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Montgomery Blair. Robert Frost Middle School PTSA president Judi Casey, who helped bring the film to Wootton, said she and other parents plan to organize to bring these concerns to the Board of Education.