Local woman credited with helping launch several stars into orbit in iconic 80's movie

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- About 40 seconds after Ponyboy Curtis started writing the story of his life, the credits reveal the reason it made the silver screen.

Jo Ellen Misakian brought Hollywood to the Central Valley one day in 1983.

"They came here in the afternoon. We took pictures out there," said Misakian.

Long before social media could turn a campaign viral, the Lone Star school library tech pushed a petition to convince Francis Ford Coppola to make "The Outsiders' book by S.E Hinton into a movie.

Nearly every seventh and eighth grader at the Sanger school signed on, and to their surprise, it worked, and the cast came to the school before premiering the movie in Fresno.

The movie launched several stars into orbit, and they knew who to credit.

"My career would not be where it is now if you guys hadn't done what you did," said Patrick Swayze.

"I think it was just fun because they were all so unknown and they were just as excited as we were," said Kristi Bishop.

She was one of more than 100 signatures on the petition.

Via Skype, she told Action News most of the girls knew about Leif Garrett, but none of the other actors who would all go on to be big stars.

Michelle Garoogian Trevino got a prime seat at the premiere after signing onto the petition at number 19.

She is a teacher-librarian herself now in the juvenile justice system and says 'The Outsiders' is still her go-to book for kids who do not like reading.

Decades later, kids still see themselves in the struggle to fit in and find their own identities.

For the kids at Lone Star, the movie is a big piece of theirs, and Misakian helped them find it.

"And that's what to me was so special about this story is that we were small-town kids that made a big difference and that started with Jo Ellen. Well, that's the part of the story that doesn't get told," said Trevino.

But it does this time.

Misakian found the book and the project to get these kids invested, and in doing so, earned a tiny taste of fame that has not faded with time.

"Who would've thought it'd work like this? I mean, here we are still talking about it. It's just amazing to me," said Misakian.

A memory that started in the library and stays gold forever.
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