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Soaring to new heights, in a single take

Video production class creates all-school lip dub

Cedar Springs — What does it take to showcase the great things going on at Cedar Springs High School? 

“A thousand-plus students, 22 songs, 41 singers and a ton of fun,” said teacher Justin Harnden, who recently helped his advanced TV/video production students pull off a nine-minute lip dub.

The video, titled “S.O.A.R.ing to New Heights” —  which stands for ‘We Strive, We’re Optimistic, We’re Accepting, We’re Responsible’ — starts in the main office and makes its way through the upper and lower hallways and into classrooms and the cafeteria, and ultimately ends in the gymnasium. In the background, students appear in every section in costumes, holding signs and cheering.

Students being filmed in the lip dub rush to get to their next places while recording goes on behind them

Thanks to the student directors, seniors Kevin Vanderhaag and Eli Malon, everyone was in the right place at the right time. Often, students had to hurry to get to their next spot in time to record the next section. 

“There are a lot of moving parts to it,” said Kevin, who took a quick break from directing to “sing” his part early in the video: an excerpt from “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. 

“It shows the pride that we have for our school. I think the school as a whole, it brings us together,” he added, noting the importance of making memories on which to fondly look back.

“I think it went really well. The students seemed to have a great time and we were able to showcase so much in nine minutes,” Harnden said. “And when it all goes that smooth while you are working with 1,000-plus students, there (are) always the what-ifs. I think the student body and staff did a great job today in working toward our goal of becoming the place to be: lots of smiles, laughs and fun.”

The last time the school did a lip dub was in 2014, and the advanced students were excited to take on the challenge this year, Harnden said.

There are a lot of moving parts to it’

— senior Kevin Vanderhaag

Production students start off with a semester-long introduction class. 

“From there, students can sign up for our advanced class, and almost all of what they do goes out for public viewing,” Harnden said. “We work on newscasts, shorts, commercials, live event filming and so much more. The class is really geared for students that are motivated and driven to work, and this group definitely showcased that.”

Senior Jaxson Dines is the mascot that can be seen throughout the whole video

Leading to Bigger Things

Kevin started doing audio production at his church and always wanted to get more into it. “I saw that ‘H’ had a TV production class, so I took that my junior year and I slowly started falling in love with it.” 

Kevin said he is considering studying media production at Ferris State University. 

Co-director Eli, who started taking production classes his sophomore year and has been involved in the theater program since freshman year, recently started a podcast and wants to get into sports broadcasting.

“I think you learn a lot of valuable lessons in it, a lot of good things that you will take throughout your life,” he said.

Explore more unique video stories of students learning, interesting school programs and educators working to help all children succeed.

Senior Jaxson Dines takes a breather after recording is done

More from Cedar Springs:
A fifth-grader at heart
Isaac Newton never imagined this

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Jane Lally
Jane Lally
Jane Lally is a reporter covering Sparta. Recently retired after working in state government and other areas, she found her way back to the journalism field again. She graduated from Central Michigan University and spent most of her career in writing, editing, graphic design/print production and broadcast closed captioning. She has written for The Grand Rapids Press, The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant/Alma, MacDonald Publications in Ithaca, Leader Publications in Niles and The Herald-Palladium in St. Joseph. She strongly believes in the importance of public schools as they bring communities together and make them stronger. She is happy to be able to tell the stories of Sparta schools.


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