The Polar Vortex closed schools across the Midwest the last week of January, including our Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools. Videos of school officials announcing snow days with rewritten pop songs made the rounds on Facebook, putting pressure on St. Joseph principal Sara Myers and assistant-principal Katie Reed.
“We were getting feedback from parents about singing a song, but I don’t play the piano, and I don’t sing,” Mrs. Myers said.
Ms. Reed and Mrs. Myers decided to take a different approach.
“It wasn’t an announcement for a snow day,” Mrs. Myers said. “It was more this is what’s happens when the students are gone. It’s been done before, but has there ever been one done with the priests involved?”
The first step was to get the priests involved.
“‘Can you come to the school? We need to talk.’ That’s what my message said,” Fr. Christopher Ankley said. “I thought, oh, no what’s going on? I just imagined the worst.”
When the principals explained the project, both Fr. Chris and José Haro were on board.
“We have such high respect for them as priests, but they are real people too,” Mrs. Myers said. “They can laugh and joke around.”
St. Joseph Middle School administrative-assistant-turned-cinematographer Katy Arnson followed our administrators-turned-sketch-comedians as they walked the halls, looking for inspiration.
“Fr. Chris says he always prays for snow days, so we thought we should start with us praying for a snow day in the chapel,” Mrs. Myers said.
Upon learning their prayers were answered, the team of four, plus Fr. Chris’ dog, Edward, take off to enjoy the empty school.
Mischief included raiding the snack shack, upsetting the library books, playing the band instruments, riding the preschool tricycles, sliding down the middle school banister, racing the gym scooters, and throwing pillows at Fr. José in Pillow Place, the music room’s special spot for good students.
“Everything was improvised,” Mrs. Myers said. “I got home that night, and my face hurt because we spent the whole time laughing.”
What was meant to amuse cooped-up students and staff, entertained folks outside BCACS. The video triggered over 15,000 views and was shared over 600 times, including by the Diocese of Kalamazoo.
“The bishop thought it was funny,” Fr. Chris said.
The intended audience, however, is still laughing. Mention the video to elementary students and a cacophony of “favorite” moments ensues.
“My favorite part was when everyone was riding the bike. Fr. Chris was riding it so happily and Fr. José couldn’t peddle it.”
“My favorite part was seeing them mess up the books and when Ms. Reed was sliding down the rails.”
“The funniest part was when Fr. José was reading a book, and they were throwing pillows at him.”
The staff enjoys teasing both priests and principals over the rules they broke.
“I want to talk to them about correct instrumental technique, and proper etiquette in Pillow Place,” St. Joseph Music teacher Ayesha Franklin said.
“I saw the librarian yesterday, and she said, ‘Father, my books are still messed up,’” Fr. Chris said.
St. Joseph Elementary administrative assistant Jeanine Winkler suggested they write “I will not play in school on a snow day” 50 times.
Writing lines may be ineffective.
“I told Mrs. Myers we have to top it next year somehow,” Fr. Chris said.