- Our Town
Press play on Parkland
470 students, dozens of classrooms, and one shot – that was the mammoth task Parkland Middle School took on when they filmed a whole-school lip dub last month.
The resulting video to Katy Perry's "Roar" shows almost the entire student body having a great time in their school. Between when it was posted to YouTube on Wednesday, April 2 and time of print, the fun and uplifting video had already been seen 1,200 times.
Staff at Parkland Middle School wanted to celebrate Pink Shirt Day in a big way this year, and vice-principal Kaley Wasylowich came up with idea of a lip dub video.
"We wanted to do a little something to live anti-bullying day and represent the solidarity movement," said principal Scott Holt.
"It's a celebration of our own community. The anti-bullying message is in the song, and we also wanted a group project that include all 470 students and our staff."
Teachers Rick Bendkowski and Erica Cross spearheaded the project, coming up with the Katy Perry song because of its message of inner strength and its popularity with the teen student body.
Then they got to work coming up with a route through the school that would take in as many different facilities as possible.
"Erica and myself spent many hours after school for three or four weeks planning a route, then modifying the route and figuring out how we were going to make the song work," said Bendkowski.
Students and teachers in each classroom or venue were given the chance to suggest how it would be showcased, and in the video you can see students hammering in the shops, working out in the gym, climbing the rock wall and much more.
It was impossible to include everything the school has to offer, Bendkowski added, in the short time frame. The end result shows about 60 per cent of the school, missing things like the gym and the band room.
"Once we had the route mapped out and a sense of how the song would play out, then we started to bring in key players – the major 'actors' in the lip sync itself to see how it would work in that zone," said Bendkowski.
Then the entire school body was brought in for a series of rehearsals on three separate days.
"Each time we did a new rehearsal on a different day, with 470 kids, we always had new faces taking over roles because somebody gets sick, somebody has an appointment. It was a constant battle to get everybody where we needed them to be at that time," said Bendkowski.
But it was clear pretty quickly how much the students loved the idea, said Holt.
"It was pretty chaotic on those days, but also the energy level was through the roof. It was a powerful feeling when it was going on, even in the practices."
On the day of filming, Bendkowski – who teachers drama, multimedia and information technology – manned the camera and pressed record. The entire four-and-a-half-minute video had to be filmed in one take as hundreds of students stepped in front of and then away from the moving camera.
Unbelievably, it took only three takes to produce a pretty seamless video.
That was in part due to the student's enthusiasm for the project, Holt said.
"What you don't see in the lip dub, if you look at the end scene, they are all cheering in our foyer. Rick would then say, we need to fix this, let's do it again, and 470 teenagers would take off – they were all engaged. And that's pretty impressive.
"A lot of kudos goes to Erica and Rick for the work they did," Holt concluded.
You can view the video here or by googling "Parkland Katy Perry lip dub".