Creative school cancellations

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, February 21st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: school cancellations.

It is that time of year. Since January, two major weather systems crippled much of our country, leading to thousands of school cancellations.

EICHER: And traditionally, we’ve heard about these closures by radio and television alerts, text messages, and robocalls.

But recently, they’ve started sending them directly to students and parents via social media.

What happens when principals get creative with those messages? Well, Paul Butler knows and in just a few minutes, you will, too.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: For much of the country, this winter has been brutal:

ANCHORS: …sweeping across Midwest right now, temperatures set to plunge well below zero. A lot of kids getting a snow day today…

Anytime bad weather forces schools to close, administrators have to get the word out quickly. In the past, those announcements were pretty straight forward:

PRINCIPAL: Schools in Springfield will be closed tomorrow…

But since 20-15, there’s been a significant increase in “singing cancellation” videos. Some are pretty musical, like this one from Swartz Creek High School in Michigan:

PRINCIPAL LYRICS: It’s a snow day, a winter cold day, stay home and just play…

Others seem to be purposely…well, bad. On January 29th, seven principals from the West Bend School District in Wisconsin sent out this video:

PRINCIPAL LYRICS: We’ve got that snow day in the forecast, got that windchill down real deep…

A quick YouTube search returns hundreds of these singing snow day announcements. Some, quite understandably, have just a handful of views…

PRINCIPAL LYRICS: There will not be school on Thursday…

But others have gone viral:

HOESING LYRICS: And we’re closed, Tuesday, till the roads are cleared by the snowplow man, and we’re closed, Tuesday…

That’s Brent Hoesing, Superintendent of Schools in Missouri Valley, IA.

HOESING: I like doing them, they’re fun to do, their not very much fun to send because, I know that every time I send one of these out, I’m disrupting somebody’s day.

Hoesing became superintendent two years ago, and he comes from a long line of educators:

HOESING: My dad’s a superintendent, and my brother’s a superintendent, and my uncle’s a superintendent. But when I became a superintendent, my wife’s like: “You know, when you do those weather announcements, or you have to cancel school, you should do it like a fun way…”

His first singing announcement played off from the popular Disney animated film: Frozen

HOESING: I just hope, you enjoy snow days…

He initially sent the song through the school’s voicemail delivery system, but parents began posting it on Facebook. Suddenly, Hoesing started getting calls from all across the country:

NEWSCAST: Brent Hoesing there has been racking up millions of views of his version…

Morning shows couldn’t get enough of the singing superintendent. Not only that, other schools began recording their own cancellation announcements.

PRINCIPAL: Alright, so you all know that folks have been challenging us to do some of this video stuff with these snow days…

Superintendent Hoesing is uncomfortable with the term “trend-setter,” but it seems that many mimic his style. In his first video, he put on a pair of sunglasses to cut down the glare of the screen and to hide the fact that he was reading the lyrics. But that “cool factor” took off, and many videos feature principals putting on shades as they start to sing.

HOESING: I definitely didn’t start it, but I know there are quite a few people that kinda started jumping on board after that.

HOESING LYRICS: Well here you go, I’m back again…

Millions of views later, Hoesing is something of an internet star. He feels the pressure to keep coming up with songs for each cancellation announcement and this winter has given him plenty of opportunities to try new material:

HOESING LYRICS: Students, this calls for you, yeah, teachers it’s for you too…

HOESING: I guess I’ll keep doing it as long as I can think up new songs. I was kinda nervous this morning…

For Hoesing, his videos are than just a clever way to let families know about weather related closings, he sees them as a connection to the students and his community in a positive and memorable way.

HOESING LYRICS: Well because it’s cold as ice, I knew you had to worry, so I sent out my song early, so you knew there wasn’t school…

HOESING: I see too many times where administrators become disconnected because they don’t take that extra step. And so this is just another one of those examples of, you know, not being afraid to try something out of your comfort zone. I mean, that’s what we ask kids to do all day every day and that’s what we ask teachers to do so if I can’t do the same, then I don’t know that I’m a very good role model.

HOESING LYRICS: So just stay up, ‘cause there’s no school-ooh, party one day…

So far this school year, Hoesing’s had to cancel or delay school 5 times—the latest was yesterday due to wind, snow, and freezing rain. Every cancellation means additional days added to the end of the school year, but hopefully the musical announcements make it a little easier to take.

HOESING LYRICS: We’ll be in school in July…

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.


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