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Inspirational student videos help Moore school cope with uncertainty

Central Junior High math teacher enlists help of eclectic eighth-graders to share message of hope and understanding after the May 20 tornado.
by Tim Willert Modified: November 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: November 27, 2013

Some Central Junior High School students are sharing a message of hope and understanding with the help of Katy Perry and a soulful math teacher who needed a hug.

The teacher, Victor Rook, said he felt displaced when 350 Plaza Towers Elementary students relocated to the Central campus after the May 20 tornado leveled their school and killed seven third-graders.

The transition was an emotional one for Rook, whose classroom was moved to a different building over the summer to make way for the new tenants. He said he felt like his colleagues grew isolated preparing for the new school year.

“We really weren't talking and connecting as much as maybe we should have,” he recalled. “I wanted somebody to come tell me we were going to be OK.”

It was shortly after that a colleague told Rook to “be the change you want to be,” he said.

Rook, a musician with a flair for the creative, took the message to heart and decided to direct a series of music videos designed to bring students, teachers and administrators closer together. He enlisted the help of an eclectic group of eighth-graders to produce and star in the videos.

“I felt like we were a little traumatized and there was healing to be done,” Rook said. “Emotionally it was huge just to be doing something creative and helpful for the school and for the kids.”

Dancing baby in video

In one of the videos, which features a dancing baby and Perry's pop music, students from Rook's video production class encourage fellow students to be aware of what others do for them.

The video includes appearances by a school cafeteria worker, security officer, janitor and other staffers who share a little bit about themselves and what they do for a living.

“Stay wide-awake and appreciate what others do for you,” Sara McLeod, 13, says in the video.

The message, according to co-producer Billy Wilcox, 14, is “don't take what you have for granted.”

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by Tim Willert
Education Reporter
Tim Willert is a native Californian with Oklahoma ties who covers education. Prior to moving to Oklahoma in June 2011, he was as an editor for in Century City, Calif., and reported on courts for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and...
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