A music video parody of Frozen’s “Let It Go” by Ault Elementary School administrators began as a way to motivate staff for STAAR assessments, but soon created a social media frenzy across the state this weekend.
The video, which was uploaded by assistant principal Meredith Akers on Wednesday afternoon, amassed 1,000 views by Thursday and leaped to 5,000 by Friday. As of Sunday evening, it had eclipsed more than 46,000 views.
“I had no idea it would get this big,” said Akers, who recorded all the vocals for the song and edited the video. “It has been really cool and overwhelming to see it pick up steam. I don’t think anybody expected it.”
The sensation was sparked when instructional specialist Ashley Jones was brainstorming ideas for a postgraduate project and called fellow administrative team members into her office to help rewrite the “Let It Go” lyrics after school on Tuesday.
“We were having a blast with it,” Akers said. “We stayed after a couple hours that day just laughing and having so much fun with it. At some point we realized, ‘Hey, we should really do this for the staff.’”
The team added the STAAR focus since the state assessments kick off on April 1, and continued to piece together the words on Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning the lyrics were complete for the song, which encouraged teachers who were stressed about STAAR to “Let It Go” and focus on a great week ahead.
Lacking a quiet recording space to harness the complete enthusiasm of the song, Akers—daughter of legendary CFISD choir director and school namesake John Hemmenway—retreated to her car on her lunch break and recorded the song using only the built-in microphone of Ault’s MacBook Pro laptop.
“At one point a parent did walk by the car, and I did immediately stop singing,” Akers said, laughing. “I did two or three takes and said, ‘That’s good enough.’ I wasn’t thinking this was going to be passed on to everyone.”
Using a Flip video camera, the administrators recorded one another lip-syncing the lyrics. In addition to Akers and Jones, the video featured performances by Janet Bakondy, principal; Shelley Edmonds, assistant principal; Elisa Beimgraben, counselor; Lorie Gregurek, instructional specialist; and Courtney Kaler, librarian.
Akers edited the video together using iMovie, and uploaded it to YouTube on Wednesday. The team planned to unveil it during the school’s staff meeting on Friday morning, but it had already gained traction by Thursday.
“It had 200 views on Thursday morning and I hadn’t even shown anyone the link,” Akers said. “People were posting it to Facebook and we were nervous because we wanted it to be a surprise for the teachers. Luckily only five or six of them had actually seen it prior to the meeting.”
Bakondy said she was impressed by the reach of the video in such a short time period.
“This was created totally for our staff, but we’re getting notes from people in Dallas, Plano and Lubbock, saying they sent this to their staff as a pump-up for STAAR,” Bakondy said. “You don’t realize how connected everybody is until something like this gets out there. But we’re all in this together across the state. We’re all in the same boat.”
While some of the lyrics are humorous, Akers said the theme of the music video resonates with all Texas educators.
“As much as the verses are silly, the chorus is really saying that all those things that stress us out about STAAR—let it go,” Akers said. “The kids are ready, we’ve done everything we can. Let them show what they know. I think that has helped pump up our teachers as well as others across the state.”
Akers said she expects another successful year of STAAR assessments for Ault Elementary.
“Our teachers work so hard and our students give so much effort,” she said. “I expect fantastic results.”