During a time of year when many 12th-graders have “senioritis,” Richard Carden focused on leaving an enduring footprint at the school that helped shape the rest of his life.
A 17-year-old Charlottean who attended The Military & Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis, Richard conceived and directed a “Lip Dub of Global Awareness,” which involved more than 700 students at the K-12 magnet school. The music video, which attracted nearly 1,000 views in its first month on YouTube, deepened a sense of school pride.
“I first saw a Lip Dub on YouTube and thought it would be a really great idea for our school to do to increase our school spirit,” said Cadet Carden, a student at MGLA for six years. “Since we’re a globally themed school, I thought it would be nice to represent countries. I also wanted the community to better understand what MGLA is all about.”
The 8 1⁄2-minute video – which begins with the 6 1⁄2-minute lip dub – features various individual students lip-synching to five current songs as a camera follows them outside the school, inside, outside again, inside again and finally back outside. Scores of students, some in costumes, line each route as they joyfully wave flags and flash banners.
Richard chose upbeat, inspirational songs that included “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan; B.o.B’s “Magic”; “Roar” by Katy Perry; “The Man” by Aloe Blacc; and Patrick Stump’s “This City.” Those selections reflected an attention to detail that impressed school staff and administration.
His final recording of the video on April 9, done in one continuous take, was the culmination of lengthy planning. “We did two school rehearsals, and I also worked with some students privately on lip-synch rehearsals before and after school,” Richard said. “We had a schoolwide rehearsal of about 15 minutes to get everyone set up.”
He had someone else operate the camera: “I was just directing in the background, making sure everyone stayed on pace and trying to get everyone pumped up to show their school spirit. ... We spent a lot of time practicing the route and getting the pace. Pace is really important. If we were even a few seconds late, it could be like a train wreck.”
There was much more planning even before that. Principal Ann Laszewski said Richard created a brief first that introduced the proposal, set up a staff meeting and held a briefing using a PowerPoint presentation on details and logistics.
The project was also a lesson in perseverance.
“We were really close to having our recording done March 27, but when we recorded it some things weren’t up to par,” Richard said. He and students worked hard the next two weeks to improve it.
Laszewski said teachers and staff occasionally guided and helped Richard, “but he took hold of it. I’m just proud of Richard and our senior class. They came together and did something extraordinary for our school.
“Our school’s all about service and service learning. Unfortunately, because we have military in our name, people think we’re a boot camp. That’s not what the military’s about, and that’s not what our school is about. We’re really trying to grow interest in our school, and Richard understands that.”
He’s been planning to attend Campbell University in the fall with the help of a $20,000 scholarship. Because he plans to major in education and school administration and loves working with children, he’ll never forget his project with big and little kids.
“The student body here loved it,” Richard said. “It definitely raised school spirit.”