GREENSBORO — Adam Paul found what he wanted to say to the teachers at his child’s school this year in the lyrics of a Natalie Merchant song.
“You’ve been so kind and generous; I don’t know how you keep on giving.”
And also: “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”
On Friday, Paul and his production company 7 Cinematics filmed the school’s students singing Merchant’s “Kind and Generous,” which he got permission to use. The company plans to create a video from their footage and release it on YouTube and social media sometime on or near May 4 — Teacher Appreciation Day.
“All it really is us parents and our kids wanting to really thank these great teachers for everything they’ve done this year to help us get through this,” he said.
The filming took up most of the school day. Each grade performed the piece separately, out on the black top of a basketball court. Fortunately, the weather cooperated, delivering a mix of sunny skies and cool breezes.
The staging for the concert was social distancing meets colored lights and smoke machine.
As the first-graders arrived at the court, teachers herded them to circles drawn in chalk.
The circles were situated so that every child was 6 feet away from anyone else across the circle facing them. At the center of each circle was a microphone.
Special Event Services of Mocksville helped with the production, providing microphones, multicolored lights and a smoke machine.
“It’s to make y’all look good,” explained Paul, as the smoke started billowing from the machine. “So you can be instafamous.”
“I’ve never been in a movie thing before,” first-grader H Sisera Rahlan said.
As students sang — and danced a bit — crewmembers filmed from the sidelines. One of the cameras, mounted on a giant crane, swept over the scene above their heads. Irving Park staff members danced along from the sidelines.
Jonathan Drye, the school’s music teacher, said that with school plays and musicals canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, performing the piece has been a great experience to share with his students.
Drye worked on his own arrangement of Merchant’s song with help and suggestions from his students. He added more percussion and other sounds and sped it up a little to make “Kind and Generous” just a bit more danceable.
First-grader Christopher Stevenson was still boogieing after the song was done.
“I liked the beat and the music and the words,” he said.
Paul and Drye wanted the video to be a way to thank teachers at Irving Park — and across the world. And they looked to create a fun experience for students, too.
But judging from Paul’s reaction, there’s likely to be a third group for whom it will be meaningful: proud Irving Park parents.
“They performed so great,” Paul said. “It was like, you know, goosebumps and tears all morning just watching these kids.”
Contact Jessie Pounds at 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.