BISMARCK, N.D. — With talking hot dogs, professional sports announcers and quirky songs, some school districts are bringing a little levity to this week's life-threatening cold in the Midwest with their unique and funny school closure announcements.
The deadly arctic blast that has blanketed the region has prompted hundreds of school closures from the Dakotas to Missouri to Pennsylvania. Most districts informed students and parents in typical fashion, with a notice on their website or via the local airwaves.
Not so in Swartz Creek, Michigan. Superintendent Ben Mainka and Principal Jim Kitchen created a video that went viral on YouTube in which they don sunglasses and sing their closure announcement to the classic tune of "Hallelujah," with the chorus " It's a snow day, a winter cold day, stay home and just play, it's a great family day." The two followed it up a couple of days later with another announcement, this time to the tune of "Let it Go" from the Disney movie "Frozen."
Ryan Lefebvre, broadcaster for Major League Baseball's Kansas City Royals, made the latest announcement for the Lee's Summit, Missouri, school district, declaring in a video posted to Twitter that "it's too cold outside." While bundled in a hat and coat, he also assigned students two homework assignments for Wednesday — "do something nice for somebody" and "have fun."
In South Dakota, a video of a talking hot dog announced the Wednesday closure of the Parker School District with the words, "I'm a hot dog! I need some heat! I'm not a cold dog! ... You cannot have school! It's too cold outside."
Mr. Hot Dog — complete with eyes, teeth, a bun and mustard — suggested students instead watch Netflix or bake a cake, but "No Fortnite!"
"I think it shows the kids that we can have fun, that school is not just about books and reading and writing all of the time," said Superintendent Donavan DeBoer, who created the video using Snapchat. "They want to have a good experience, and this is a way we can do that."
DeBoer said unorthodox school closure announcements aren't necessarily a trend but simply the result of an evolution in technology, and the fact that "we all have Facebook, we all have cellphones." And he joked that "one of the best things we do as educators is steal good stuff from other educators."
DeBoer said videos he created in past years drew critical acclaim from his students, and "now I'm kind of stuck — every time we cancel school, what's next?" He said he has several more video ideas "in the pack there, waiting to come out. But hopefully we don't have too many more snow days."