I believe you are remembering "Cipher in the Snow," a short film that
has often been shown in schools. In the early 1980s I was a Girl Scout
troop leader, and we showed "Cipher in the Snow" as part of an effort
to raise sensitivity about "unpopular" kids. This has got to be one of
the saddest films I've ever seen. It's about a neglected, friendless
boy who steps off a school bus and drops dead in the snow. Most of the
story is told in flashback, as the boy's teacher investigates his
family background and his social interactions at school. The boy's
mother is divorced, and the stepfather berates and insults the boy
when not ignoring him. It becomes apparent that the boy, feeling
downtrodden, isolated, and unnoticed, died from "lack of love."
"Cipher in the Snow" is available on VHS and on DVD from LDS Video
(the first two links below). The DVD includes four other short films.
"Cipher in the Snow is a classic short film made in 1973 which retains
the power of its message even today. If you aren't familiar with this
film (which is based on a true story), it is basically about a young
boy (the 'cipher' of the title) who simply falls dead in the snow one
morning after a bus ride. The teacher who investigates what happened
finds that the boy had no real friends, and essentially died of
loneliness. The teacher learns that he was the boy's favorite teacher,
yet he can hardly even remember who the boy was."
LDS Video: Cipher in the Snow (VHS)
"Shy and ostracized, the boy was a cipher, an unknown number in a
class roll book. As the teacher unravels the mystery of what led to
the boy's death, he commits himself to not letting others suffer the
LDS Video: Cipher in the Snow Plus 4 Other LDS Film Classics (DVD)
"Cipher in the Snow... A true story of a boy who was never noticed
until he died one school morning in the snow. Review of his tragic
life and possible causes of death reveal that he slowly died from lack
UMC Media Resource Library Catalog
"Cipher in the Snow. The haunting true story is about a young boy who
asks to get off the bus before his stop. When he steps off the bus he
falls dead into the snow. The principal of his school asks a teacher
to investigate the matter. The teacher looks back on the boy's life to
discover that the boy did not receive affection at home, the other
kids showed little or no interest in him, and many of the teachers did
not go out of their way to affirm the boy. The investigating teacher
concluded that the boy simply was not loved. He became a cipher, a
zero, because no one cared. He died for lack of love."
Lookout Magazine: The Place of Love
"Cipher in the Snow... the story of a child who was academically quite
bright and doing very well at school until the time of his parents'
marriage break-up. The child became an innocent victim of turmoil at
home and consequently his mind was distracted from his school work.
Without understanding the full circumstances his teachers assumed he
was becoming lazy and began to mark him down in his grades. Successive
reports built on comments made in previous assessments. To make
matters worse his mother remarried and the boy?s stepfather never
really accepted him. The step-father was always telling him how
useless he was. One day this apparently normal and academically bright
young man simply dropped dead in the snow. Tests showed there was no
apparent illness. His spirit simply had been crushed to the extent
there was no point in living."
Windsor Park Baptist Church: The Unqualified Critic
"A touching story of a timid little boy who is rejected and overlooked
by his family, schoolmates and teachers until one day he suddenly and
"inexplicably" drops dead in the snow. Designed to motivate concern
among teachers for the individual needs of children."
University of Washington: Educational Media Collection
"The story of a little boy whom nobody thought was important. Traces
the step-by-step transformation of one very shy boy who over the
years, little by little, was reduced to a zero by his family,
schoolmates and teachers. What was the reason for his sudden
inexplicable death one snowy morning?"
Northwestern Oklahoma State University: Media Center
"Cipher in the Snow... was about a boy named Cliff Evans. The opening
scene shows Cliff on a school bus being taunted by his peers. He then
asks the bus driver to stop and as he exits the bus he just keels over
and dies in the snow. The movie then goes back to show Cliffs home
life-which was abusive-and school life, which consisted of teasing by
students and being labeled dumb by some teachers, One particular
teacher is asked to represent the school at Cliffs funeral. He starts
to try to find out information on Cliff but soon realizes that Cliff
was a boy who fell through the cracks. Nobody knew too much about
Cliff. It was as if he had been invisible while attending school."
Leadership for Student Activities: Invisible Students
"Cipher in the Snow" is based on a true story. Here is the original text:
TeenLit: Cipher in the Snow
I hope this is the correct film! If it is not, please request
clarification; I'll be glad to offer further assistance before you
rate my answer.