Cumberland School District “Snow day” video becomes YouTube sensation

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From left: Elementary School Principal Jim Richie, Superintendent Barry Rose, High School Principal Ritchie Narges, and Middle School Principal Colin Green (and the Cumberland Beaver) became instant YouTube sensations last week with the release of the district’s new Snow Day announcement video.




There was no school in Cumberland last Thursday, due to our latest round of snow and ice. Not so unusual, it does happen this time of year.  What was unusual, however, was the way the school district decided to announce the closing.  They made a YouTube video!
Last year, the district administrators enlisted the help of a celebrity, AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys, and, with the able assistance of some students, put a music video together on YouTube.

The video is matched to the Backstreet Boys’ song, “I Want It That Way,” and features several scenes from the school, an opening introduction from McLean, the school’s Beaver mascot, and the three principals - Richie Narges, Colin Green and Jim Richie, along with District Superintendant Barry Rose, lip-syncing to a sound track sung by students Bishop Bloom, Brad Reed, Darren Eagleman, Nick Bearhart, and Music Teacher Janet Holdt. Nick Bearhart also acted as videographer and director of the video.

Thursday was the first chance they had to air the video and the response was unbelievable.  It went viral.  Over 300,000 views between YouTube and Facebook, and the story was featured in segments on various news stations including WCCO, WEAU,  KARE 11, FOX 9, and other stations in Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Madison, and Wausau, as well.
High School Principal Ritchie Narges related how this video came together. “Four or five years ago a few teachers on my staff saw a video on Facebook where a principal made a video of a song where the lyrics were changed notifying the school district that school was closed due to a snow day. I didn’t think much of it at the time and while listening to the Backstreet Boys song, “I Want It That Way,” I thought the lyrics could be easily changed to “Today is a Snow day.” I then told our choir teacher, Janet Holdt, of the idea and she ran with it. I had a connection to the Backstreet Boys through a college friend and told him about the idea and asked if he would ask one of them if they would introduce the video. My friend, Tom Adler, asked Backstreet Boy, AJ McLean, and he agreed to introduce the video. I then ran it by the three other school administrators to see if they were in. They were, including our Director of Learning but she did not want to lip sync, so we had her wear the Beaver mascot suit for the video. We also had to have cue cards made because our administrators have no talent!”

Janet Holdt had a few of her choir students do the lyrics and we kept it quiet as much as we could to make it a surprise. I asked one of our students [Nick Bearhart], who was excellent at making videos, if he’d like to create and direct the video. He was excited and had it all planned out the day we put it all together. The administrators did a great job for four guys who have no musical talent whatsoever!” He give full credit to his co-conspirators, “The students and Janet are the reason this video was successful.”

Superintendant Barry Rose had this to add: “It was good fun. We are always asking the students and staff to “think outside the box” and go outside of their  comfort zones,  so we challenged ourselves to do the same. The hardest part has been keeping it secret for a whole year!”

Elementary School Principal Jim Richie, viewed the experience with a little more trepidation. “It was so far outside my comfort zone - all the musical talent in the family skipped right over me and went to my kids!  You will NEVER catch me doing anything like this again!”  He went on to add that, “Seriously though, the greatest part was seeing how involved the students were.  They loved it, had a great time hanging out with us and being so in charge of the process.  I really think it helped them re-invest in their education.”

To view the video for yourself, you can go to the District’s Facebook page or on YouTube at



Cumberland Advocate

375 2nd Ave, PO Box 637
Cumberland, WI 54829
Phone: (715) 822-4469
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