My principal back in high school would have sent 2,000-page technical-level COVID reports to each student, to be read and summarized within 24 hours. Most of us students would end up choosing detention and bathroom scrub work rather than take that task seriously.
“We have got to make safety a cool thing,” – Principal Lee
Dr. Quentin Lee is one of the few educators who understand how to get through to children in these modern times, the social media age. Dr. Lee is the principal of Childersburg High School in Alabama and he recently came up with a parody song to teach his students important safety protocols as schools begin to reopen .
He created a hilarious yet educating parody video of the 1990 MC Hammer classic “Can’t Touch This”, featuring some of his teachers and students who volunteered to be a part of the production.
Armed with a light-blue bottle of Lysol, the principal displayed his incredible dance moves as he flipped through the hallways, warning the students about touching certain things or standing too close to each other. At one point, after telling a couple of girls to “better pull that mask up”, he held up an infographic and said, “It’s the CDC, not me”. The entire video was based on implementing the CDC’s safety guidelines in a hilarious way.
“Doing silly stuff is something I really enjoy,” Lee said in an interview Thursday with Alabama NewsCenter . “I released a song in May about my feelings toward COVID, and it was just me sitting at my desk screaming. It made national media, and I figured it was time to do something different.”
Relatable teaching techniques
According to the principal, the entire video production – including writing the lyrics – was completed in less than 24 hours. It was recorded by local film director Jaylen Mitchell of City Vizualz.
“I wrote the lyrics in fifteen minutes,” Lee said. “I called Jaylen and he came to the school to record. I had the video by 10 that night.”
The principal had an army of eager students to choose his stars from, and volunteers Zay Youngblood, Jaden Robinson, and Aniyah Oden turned up quickly.
“They were nervous at first, but they knew it was gonna be something fun,” Lee said. “Zay said there was a zero percent chance of him dancing. They played their parts to a T. It was just fun to hang out, and they did phenomenally.”
On July 28, Principal Lee posted the video on his YouTube Channel and so far, it has garnered over 5.4 million views. Several TV stations, popular websites, and verified celebrities shared and retweeted the parody in a matter of days. Talk about going viral for the right reasons! It’s not just his students who needed to appreciate the “coolness of safety” after all. Millions of viewers would re-learn the guidelines they’ve known for months but this time, it’s more exciting and they are more likely to remember and practice.
“I’ve been reconnected to a lot of people from my past – high school and college friends,” he said. “Parents and teachers are so proud. Having conversations with the kids and Ms. Veazey and all the interviews have been fun.
“We are working tirelessly to make sure school is a place where students can be accepted, loved, and clean,” he continued. “Everybody needs love, regardless of political party or ethnic background. If we can allow people to laugh and forget about their problems, then we’ve accomplished the goal.”
Principal Lee urges people to take the message of the video seriously while enjoying the weird antics of the actors. Safety during a global pandemic is a responsibility we owe to ourselves and to others.
“We have got to make safety a cool thing,” he said. “If we don’t see the warning signs, we’ll be doomed for destruction.”
- Anna Claire Vollers. Watch Alabama high school principal in “Can’t Touch This” parody video about COVID-19. Al. https://www.al.com/news/2020/08/watch-alabama-high-school-principal-in-cant-touch-this-parody-video-about-covid-19.html Retrieved 06-08-2020
- Anthony Cook. Alabama principal’s viral music video Hammers home COVID-19 guidelines. Alabama News Center. https://alabamanewscenter.com/2020/07/31/alabama-principals-viral-music-video-hammers-home-covid-19-guidelines/ Retrieved 06-08-2020
- How to Protect Yourself & Others. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html Retrieved 06-08-2020
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