Published on May 24, 2014
Singer/songwriter Jeffery Straker helped Central School unveil their Centennial song "Let's Celebrate" during a special school assembly on May 23.
Published on May 24, 2014
Central School students crowded together for a school photo shorly after unveiling their Centennial song "Let's Celebrate" during a school assembly on Friday.
Swift Current’s Central School was looking for a little help with their centennial celebrations, and they got it from singer/songwriter Jeffery Straker.
Central school was looking to commemorate their own centennial, which coincides with the city’s, in a special way. On May 23, they unveiled a song written by the school’s students, with Straker’s assistance.
“The result, I think, was pretty incredible,” Straker said shortly after the premier of the song. “The experience was great.”
Entitled “Let’s Celebrate,” the centennial song was written by the grade five class using ideas and themes thought up by younger students. The entire school was on hand to perform the musical tribute, aided by music and drama teacher Celia Hammerton.
“I was just blown away with the way the kids worked, with the way it all came together,” she said. “We were very fortuanate to have Jeffery. He is a master of working with kids, of connecting with kids, and getting the message across.”
Straker, who visits schools around the province conducting songwriting workshops, was thrilled with the final product, which he said was a reflection of the students’ dedication.
“At every grade and every level they were really into it,” he said after the unveiling. “They got what we were trying to do and they really participated and they really paid attention.”
Straker normally works with older students. When contacted to see if he would help out with elementary school students he was a little unsure. In the end, however, he says the students were very aware of the importance of the centennial celebration, and that dispelled any uncertainty he had.
“It really surprised me how engaged they were because I’ve done a lot of workshops in schools all over the place and it’s not always that you get students that engage.”
The song helped create a few budding songwriters as well. Straker said he doesn’t just try and teach kids a few techniques. He wants them to see themselves as future songwriters. The message seems to have been received.
“Seeing them come up with verses and get so excited about seeing it come together and then pushing themselves to make it better and rhyme better and how into it they got, that was the best part,” he said. “The performing and recording was great too, but for me that moment when I saw them realize this is actually turning into a song was just really special.”
The exercise also gave the students a chance to reflect on the school and their experiences in it.
“When we started the process one of the things Jeffery did was this brain storming,” Hammerton remembered. “We pulled out language and words to describe the school, like if the school had a personality, what would it be, and I thought it was a really neat thing to bring in.”
After a successful first run the students are ready to reveal “Let’s Celebrate” to the city. Hammerton and Straker said the song will be available online at the school’s website in the near future.