pep rally
PHOTO / KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT

By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools

Was it possible and what would it take?

Those were the questions Principal Letoni Murry had when he approached music instructor Seth Gregory with regard to hosting a virtual pep rally for all the students — traditional and distance learning — at Stewarts Creek Middle School.

“Everybody wants a sense of normalcy and we are not in a situation where normal, as we know it, is possible,” Gregory said. “However, we can rethink and redesign opportunities … and maybe find new ways of doing old things that we may consider doing again later.”

Challenge accepted.

Gregory was tasked with assembling a committee — Shannon Cron, Jeffrey Priest, Kevin Welch, Laura Tywater and himself — to, as he put it, “get kind of the nuts and bolts together.”

After their first meeting, they looped in coaches and the rest of the band instructors, who had already started picking out music.

“We discussed what goes into a pep rally,” recalled Gregory, who made a point of saying the staff at the middle school had already established a very good working relationship, “what activities we could use to keep things fresh, keep things interesting. Opportunities for brain breaks. Opportunities for student activities that we can nominate representatives from the mini schools and participate in some activities, like some of the games (in) the video. That way that gives them a little sense of competition.”

Gregory added, “We wanted to make it feel as much like a pep rally as possible. (Cheerleaders) did a wonderful job preparing the students.”

Naturally, they also celebrated all the athletic teams.

All the elements were recorded using iPhones and then assembled and edited using iMovie.

“Ms. Cron and I were up texting each other about 10 o’clock at night,” Gregory said, “working on different elements of the video — dividing and conquering.”

It was a short turnaround, and everyone involved work diligently to have everything ready for the student body to screen the week prior to Fall break.

Gregory estimates a combined 30 hours of work by everyone involved went into the 30-minute virtual rally, including 10 hours of work by the band for two-minutes of content.

Other schools in the district of produced virtual events — be it pep rallies or theatrical performances — and, despite the time and work that goes into planning such a project, Gregory foresees more.

“Absolutely,” he replied, when asked. “I would look to do something like this, maybe, in January.

“It’s an opportunity for teachers to collaborate in a new setting,” Gregory continued. “We collaborate constantly for our classes and for education across the district and things of that nature, but, for us to collaborate and to have a product that we can (share)—we enjoyed the creative process and the opportunity.”


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