Principal gives school closing the 'Bohemian Rhapsody' treatment

Snow day!
Principal James Detwiler and drama teacher Chad Caddell of Stephens Elementary School prepare their message telling parents that school is closed.YouTube

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By Eun Kyung Kim

Elementary school principal James Detwiler got sick of telling winter-weary parents the same thing week after week, sometimes day after day: Weather has shut down school.

So the Kentucky educator changed up his snow day phone messages — with a little help from his school’s creative drama teacher, Chad Caddell.

On Monday morning, a recording of the two rocking out to a version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” went out to parents of Stephens Elementary School in Burlington, Ky. 

“We just got a call, breaking news, school is closed, school is closed. Sorry parents for another day,“ the duo sings in a video posted on YouTube.

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Detwiler said he and Caddell actually made the recording last week, in anticipation of another school closing in the very near feature.

“It was ready to go, so when I got the call yesterday morning early, I got up, got my coffee, pushed the button on my computer and it went out to everybody,” Detwiler told

And the parents have loved it, according to YouTube comments and messages Detwiler has received.

“They’re saying things like, 'Thanks for that laugh. That was hilarious. It’s been such a long winter so far — we really appreciated it,'" Detwiler said. “I mean, this is like our 8th or 9th call we’ve made this year.”

Detwiler posted the video, which was recorded by an assistant principal, on his Facebook page before putting it up on YouTube, where it got more than 77,000 views within its first day.

“It’s kind of nuts,” he said of the response.

But Detwiler said he’s using the reaction to help teach his 700 students about the power and reach of social media.

“I don’t think I even recognized the power of social media until the last 24 hours,” he said. “It’s been so crazy. It just gives us an illustration to take to the kids, and say, ‘Social media is awesome. It can be used for good and for fun, but look at how powerful it is. You have to be careful what you put out there.'”

What do Detwiler and Caddell have in mind for an encore? Parents may find out soon. Forecasts don’t look promising for holding school on Wednesday.

“I got a text from my drama teacher last night. He was like, ‘I’ve got an idea,’ but I haven’t talked to him yet today,” Detwiler said. “We’re expecting bad weather tonight so I’m sure we’ll be making another recording some time today.”