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Schools turn to songs, videos to put a laugh into school cancellations

It's hard to beat the excitement of a snow day, but these school administrators try their best by singing the news.
/ Source: TODAY

It’s hard to do anything so exciting it overshadows a snow day. But several principals and superintendents have tried their best to make school cancellation announcements even more thrilling than a missed day of school.

Take the video by Swartz Creek Community School District Superintendent Ben Mainka and Principal Jim Kitchen. The Michigan duo first poke fun at other principals and superintendents who sing school cancellation announcements until they break into a stirring rendition of the iconic song “Hallelujah,” with lyrics centered on missed school days. Since it was posted Monday, more than 765,000 have viewed it. There are only 3,700 students in the school district.

“We typically don’t do videos,” Mainka told TODAY. “It actually made it more challenging.”

Mainka and Kitchen both have some singing experience, so they wanted to show off what they could do.

“Nobody was expecting us to sing harmonies,” he said. “We love music, and we love the arts. And we thought the video was a good way to model these things for the kids.”

Superintendent Brent Hoesing of Missouri Valley, Iowa’s school district of less than 800 students, has been using pop songs to make snow day announcements since he started last year. In January alone, he sang for three school cancellation videos. The most recent, from January 30, is his spin on George Michael’s “Faith.” It includes lyrical gems, such as “I had to think twice, before I sent the bus away, because there is a safer way. It’s what I have to do.”

Hoesing said it takes anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes to write the songs, but he doesn’t mind it.

“It is more fun to sit and make up songs. The stressful part is calling school off,” he explained to TODAY. “We are affecting people immediately.”

While the Swartz Creek and Missouri Valley officials have chops, not every school administrator is ready to audition for “The Voice.” Gar Willoughby, principal of Bishop Kelley Catholic School in Lapeer, Michigan, did a version of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and included text where he thought he could use a little help from auto-tune.

Another Michigan contender, Principal Adam Bowen of New Buffalo Elementary School informed students of a snow day with the lyrics “School is canceled. Oooh. I am for real. Never meant to make your parents cry. I apologize a million times,” sung to OutKast’s “Ms. Jackson.”

Eau Claire Public Schools in Michigan went with a 1990s favorite when an administrator rapped to the theme song of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” to close school, “Now this is a story all about how our school week got turned all upside down, and I’d like to take a minute while I’m sitting right here to tell you how school got closed in this little town of Eau Claire.”