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School District Virtual Sing-Along Success
Band Teacher Jeremy Clifton with Mesa Verde Elementary School and California Avenue Elementary hosted a Christmas Sing-Along special on YouTube last week for students and families. Virginia Still/The News

While there is nothing normal about the 2020-21 school year, teachers have been assimilating new creative practices to continue education within Riverbank Unified School District. Band Teacher Jeremy Clifton for Mesa Verde Elementary and California Avenue Elementary created a virtual Christmas Sing-Along for students on YouTube.

“I felt like it was a success,” expressed Clifton about the Sing-Along. “I had a blast putting on this show. Big thanks goes out to my brother Cory, whose expertise in video, streaming, and other things tech has helped me rise to the challenge. We’d never collaborated on a livestream before, so this was new for both of us. We learned so much from doing this.”

The live stream on YouTube began at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 16 and unfortunately due to COVID students were not involved in the virtual performance but were able to participate in the sing-along from the safety of their own homes.

“Unlike previous shows where it was a concert by the students, this is a concert for the students,” said Clifton. “It was hard to make this decision because it’s always been about featuring the kids’ talent and hard work.”

There were 13 songs within the set that included Clifton playing the guitar and the piano and singing. There were several Christmas classics in the set like “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Let it Snow”, “Feliz Navidad” and more. The words were listed on screen so guests could sing-along with Clifton playing the guitar.

“Our students loved the singalong,” stated Mesa Verde Elementary School Principal Kimberly Ott. “They made so many comments to their teachers about how happy it made them. We are so thankful that our music teacher, Mr. Clifton was able to do this for them.”

All the songs that were selected by Clifton were songs that were easy to sing along with and songs that they sang during music lessons since mid-November.

“I thought that Mr. Clifton did a great job putting together the singalong for the students,” remarked District Superintendent Christine Facella. “It certainly was a nice change of pace for students, teachers and staff from distance learning to a fun activity. Many thanks to Mr. Clifton for his work and thoughtful program.”

The performance was live and while Clifton was performing the audience was also engaged in a chat where they could comment. For those that were unable to watch the event live or wanted to view it again the recording was published online. With 1.6k views of the live streamed Sing-Along, Clifton is amazed and delighted to share some holiday cheer with so many.

“I enjoyed seeing the happy comments from students who were thanking Mr. Clifton,” added Ott. “I thought all the songs were good. Staff seemed to enjoy the singalong just as much as students. We had a lot of participation from students at both Mesa Verde and California Avenue.”

Although the live stream was a lot of work and a learning experience with only a week of preparation Clifton appreciated all the enthusiasm and participation from students and staff which made it worth all his efforts.

“It (virtual performance) forced me to adopt a different mindset, be inventive, and take a risk - to be a show host rather than a choir director,” explained Clifton. “I’m really glad I took that leap of faith. It was an enormous personal achievement and a tremendous learning event that I get to carry with me. I hope that I will be able to build on this experience and that it will be the first and worst of more to come.”