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Joyce Endee

White Mountains students rock MLK Day

For the outdoor scene of the lipdub Ben Laflamme plays some sweet licks on air guitar while Ben Belanger on a snowmobile gets some air off a jump. Photo by Jonathan Benton. (click for larger version)
January 18, 2012
WHITEFIELD — It's not often that students even admit that they enjoy being in school, but on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, over 150 White Mountains Regional High Schoolers came together on their day off to make something special.

"It's to build school spirit, celebrate diversity and get all the various groups together," said WMRHS Principal Erik Anderson. "We have every demographic at the school represented."

Amidst the craze of online videos one format that struck WMRHS was the lip dub. At its basic form this involves filming throughout the rooms of a building while people lip sync and get their groove on. The administration likes the way this creates a sense of pride in the school while taking alumni through memory lane.

"The high level of spirit and sense of belonging this type of thing creates positively affects student achievement," said Anderson.

Every school has kids that can sing or dance, but the loose criteria of the lip dub removes that restriction allowing an all-inclusive event.

"This is an amazing achievement to pull off with little adult assistance," said Anderson. "I would think every high school kid and educator would find what we're able to pull off interesting."

Filming started at 9 a.m. and above Franconia Notch that morning it was less than 10 degrees below zero. With a planned single 14-minute shot, kids were running all over the school from one scene to the next, freezing outside at the barns, then sweating back through the greenhouse. With classes that involve tree sapping, chainsaws and taking care of animals, White Mountains in general is not a typical high school.

"It's like a big party everyone is definitely mixing and mingling with people they don't usually hang out with," said junior Joe Dami.

After a noontime video rehearsal of missed marks, doorways backed into and shaky camera movement it was time to regroup.

It would take four more takes before the polished product of kids swinging on the rock wall, dancing with goats, forming a mosh pit and culminating with a rebel yell chant in the gym.

"There were no cliques, everyone is just hanging out having fun," said sophomore Keelin Lane

The cinematography and editing of the production was organized and done by students Jack Alexander and Joe Corey. Apart from blocking sets with a council of student leaders the two boys spent most of their free team this past week shredding enough old magazines to fill six trash bags of confetti.

Ask any teacher how hard it is to keep the attention of 20 students let alone almost half of WMRHS' total population, but somehow by 3 p.m. with only MLK Day to rehearse they did it. Look for it this week soon on youtube.

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