Since moving to remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic, staff and teachers throughout the Delaware City School District have been wishing their students well in video messages. This week, students at Hayes High School responded with a video message of their own.
On March 22, Hayes physics teacher Riley Jantz posted a video titled “Hayes Friends Parody” that featured short videos of teachers and staff at Hayes waving to students or taking part in various other activities all set to “I’ll Be There For You” by The Rembrandts, the theme song to the TV sitcom “Friends.”
Hayes Principal Ric Stranges said he was glad when Jantz asked staff to submit videos for the project.
“We have some creative people,” Stranges said. “He (Jantz) said, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to show students we are all doing well and we are all friends,” and he asked all the teachers to submit something funny or nice.”
For his segment of the video, Stranges dunks a basketball inside the Hayes gym.
“Obviously, you know I can slam a basketball,” Stranges joked Friday. “Everyone submitted something, and it got a great response.”
Stranges added the fact that many students at Hayes were born after “Friends” left the air in 2004 was not lost on the staff.
“We thought about that but I think because it’s on all the time and the kids know it, that it would resonate with them,” Stranges said. “For us, it was more about the faces and connecting than the song. Truly, this culture at our school is that these people are friends.”
The following day, a video “2020 friends video (we miss school)” was uploaded by Hayes senior Emily Ruen. The video features dozens of seniors greeting each other while the school remains closed.
Ruen said she sprung into action after seeing the staff’s video.
“After seeing the video … I decided to take a sad situation and make it positive,” Ruen said. “The senior class I am a part of is very close, and I know how much we miss each other and how much we miss our teachers, so I decided to make my own video. I felt like not only did I need to see my friends and classmates, but I also felt like the teachers would be happy to see us as well.”
Ruen said she put out a call to action on her Instagram page and was soon flooded with videos from her classmates. Ruen, who appears in the video at the 1:03 mark, said the video took about a day and a half to edit together and post.
“I was blown away with how many people sent me videos and how many people shared the video!” Ruen said. “I thought I was just doing something for fun but I had parents, friends, and teachers who all contacted me when this video was posted and made my heart smile. I know this situation happened very quickly, and I wanted to put as many smiles on faces that I could during this hard time.”
Fellow senior Emily Jackson appears at the 21 second mark picking out clothes.
“The seniors had a lot of things taken away this year, such as their last sports season, prom, and soon postponing graduation or even canceling,” she said. “We all tried to put a little bit of ourselves in the video. For instance, I was picking out what I was gonna wear. Dressing nice is important to me, so I included something that represents me.”
Jackson added the video will be something she always remembers.
“This video was a way to spread some positivity among the Hayes staff and students,” she said. “The video is something I sure won’t forget from my senior year.”
Luke Jackson and his dog, Harvey, appear in the video playing Frisbee.
“I wanted to show something that I’ve been doing in my free time while we are in quarantine,” Jackson said. “I liked seeing the teachers staying positive when their job is not the easiest at the moment.”
Stranges said he and the staff at Hayes got emotional watching the video.
“This senior class, which is special anyway to me, responded with their own video and it was even better than ours,” Stranges said. “The response from teachers, including the principal, is that we watched it with tears pouring out of our eyes because of the sense of the loss we feel not connecting with our students face to face. They are planning more and so are we, just to stay connected. We’re social beings, and the video kind of kicked off this period of time in the right way.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.