Six months into 2013, I thought it would be a good time to share WestChesterBuzz’s best human-interest stories in West Chester and Liberty Township so far this year. By reading through this weeklong series, it will be easy to tell why this community is so special.
Lib dub showcases special senior class at Lakota East
Senior projects are commonplace at high schools.
They often involve charity drives. Unfortunately, when a new class of seniors arrive after the summer, the projects are usually forgotten.
However, the project led by the Class of 2013 National Honor Society at Lakota East High School will live on.
NHS members came up with an original idea. They decided to do a “lip dub”, where roughly 3,000 students, teachers and community members would participate in a video lip-syncing five popular songs from artists, including Black Eyed Peas, One Direction and Smash Mouth.
They would promote the cause by making a media push to get the attention of Ellen DeGeneres. Students emailed whoever they could, tweeted #WeWantEllen and wrote letters – close to 600 – to the “Ellen DeGeneres Show.’’
They even shared their plan with The Buzz, which covered the pre-filming, the filming and the finished lip dub online and in The Enquirer.
The group, however, has yet to be featured on the popular daytime talk show.
No matter, the school has already raised awareness and more than $13,000 for the Center for Spina Bifida Care at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The video also played a large of role in defining a memorable senior class. Later in the year, the seniors pranked the school by writing a school pride message with canned goods. That message was eventually taken down and donated to survivors of the tornadoes that ripped through parts of Oklahoma City and its suburbs, as well as to Reach Out Lakota, a nonprofit that provides food, clothing and necessities to needy Butler County residents.
The “lib dub” project was kick started during a school assembly in February, when a student at VanGorden Elementary inspired East students to get behind it.
Amelia Murphy, 11, received a standing ovation during that assembly when she shared her story to a packed gym. Murphy, who suffers from Spina Bifida, has had 62 surgeries, many on her brain and her spine.
“Spina Bifida is basically a condition with your spinal cord and your brain,” Murphy said. “Symptoms vary. Some people can walk and some people can’t. I have had half my surgeries on my head. It can be really tough, but my family has been with me through all of it.”
The support of her family, which includes her sisters, Claire, 13, and Emma, 16, doesn’t end at school or at home. She also gets special attention during her visits to Cincinnati Children’s, where her mom, Pam, works as patient advocate in family relations.
Her mother said she found out that Amelia had Spina Bifida when she was 19 weeks pregnant. At that time, she admits she knew nothing about it.
“You have to re-think everything,” her mother said. “You have to re-plan your vacations, what kind of house you are going to live in and constantly think about how far away you are from the hospital.”
The “lip dub” was filmed April 18 at the high school. Film students from East and the University of Cincinnati pointed the cameras, while the project leaders from the Lakota East National Honor Society told them what to shoot.
Students were lip-synching to the music, dressed up in costumes, danced in the background, as well as used roller blades, glow sticks and a helicopter in an impressive production that lasted only one Thursday afternoon.
“I can honestly say that I’ve watched the lip dub more than 100 times. And it just keeps getting better each time I view it,” NHS senior president Sydney Aten said, just days after the video release . “I get goosebumps. I shed tears.
“It’s unlike anything else I ever have and probably ever will experience. I love my school. I love my teachers. I love my community. They made this happen.”