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Delaware School Community Recounts Filming Of Robin Williams’ ‘Dead Poets Society’

The 1989 Movie Was Filmed At St. Andrew's School In Middletown, Delaware
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(credit: CBS) Steve Patterson
Steve Patterson joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News ...
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By Steve Patterson

MIDDLETOWN, Del., (CBS) — Groundbreaking, life-altering, and generation-defining.

The 1989 film Dead Poets Society, a breakout dramatic role for the late-great Robin Williams, and often considered required watching for it’s message: be different – seize the day.

PHOTOS: Dead Poets Society Filmed At St. Andrew’s School In Middletown, Delaware

“Fuel for inspiration as well as maybe critical examination at the same time,” science teacher Eric Kemer said.

It was filmed at St. Andrew’s Boarding School in Middletown, Delaware.

Our tour guide, science teacher Eric Kemer, who had just started teaching at the school while Williams was filming.

He remembers some pretty personal moments.

“My most vivid memory is sort of like a dual memory. One of him in a circle of young actors giving them shtick. They were just rolling with laughter,” Kemer said. “The other part of that was him standing all by himself for an extended period of time, staring at the ground.”

Kemer showed us some familiar places you might recognize from the film – including this iconic scene.

The prep school where Robin Williams whispered "Carpe Diem". (credit: Will Kenworthy/CBS3)

The school where Robin Williams whispered “Carpe Diem”. (credit: Will Kenworthy/CBS3)

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(Williams:) “But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you.”

“He’s walking behind them and leaning forward and whispering,” Kemer said.

(Williams:) Carpe…”

Oh Captain, My Captain right? Well sort of. Although most of the shots were taken around campus, much of the inside stuff, including that iconic cave and many of the shots from the classrooms were shot at a sound stage in Wilmington. Despite that, the legacy from the filming, the message from the movie is all around.

PHOTOS: Remembering Robin Williams

Former student and now Dean of Students Will Robinson says St. Andrew’s is nothing like the stuffy prep school it portrays.

“As an alum Dead Poets has a special meaning for us,” Robinson said.

Half of the 300 kids it enrolls receive financial aid and you might guess what it’s now known for.

“We always like to say our most famous graduates are teachers,” he said.

Williams’ death on the 25th anniversary of Dead Poets. His legacy and character in these walls forever.

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