Rick Magnell, bottom right, films some of Big Lake School’s students as part of a music and video project. (Shannon O’Donavan photo)

Rick Magnell, bottom right, films some of Big Lake School’s students as part of a music and video project. (Shannon O’Donavan photo)

Wild times at Cariboo’s Big Lake School captured on film

Songwriting and video project showcases school’s emphasis on outdoors

It was a team effort to get the Big Lake student body coordinated for a songwriting and music video project.

Parent/volunteer/songwriter Shannon O’Donovan masterminded the project and applied for the grant from the Cariboo Chilcotin Arts and Culture Society which allowed for the hiring of Craig Cardiff, a folk singer, and then later, Rick Magnell, videographer. Funds from the Big Lake School Parent Advisory Council also helped with the project.

The songwriting workshop was in development for four years, but delays compounded, preventing the original plan of an in-person event from happening.

But then Covid made remote learning the new normal and things came together for a two-day workshop via Zoom to write the school song.

Cardiff is based in Ontario, but he had done a workshop O’Donovan heard about through her kids’ school when she lived in Canmore, Alta. and he has done workshops for schools across the country.

Big Lake School goes from K to Grade 6, has about 40 students and also has “wild school” status, focusing on connection to the natural world.

“It’s a really nice group to work with,” said O’Donovan, who helped facilitate the entire project.

The song the students wrote with Cardiff’s help highlight the students’ outdoor-based learning, and other strengths it has in being a small, rural school.

Once the song was written, the students learned it by heart in order to perform it at the school’s talent show, accompanied by O’Donovan and Casey Ladowsky, whose child also attends the school.

To learn the song, the students were also helped along by bus driver Andrea MacDonald, who is also very musical, according to O’Donovan.

MacDonald played the song on a CD for the kids for two weeks prior to the performance to help them learn it by heart. They then performed it for the parents at a the talent show.

“It made a few people cry, so that was cool.” recounted O’Donovan of the performance.

The previous year, O’Donovan had made a music video for Earth Day with a song about climate change as part of a Cariboo Chilcotin Conservation Society initiative. This led her to the idea to turn the school song into a music video project as well.

“I just really, really get a lot of joy out of doing these music video projects with the kids,” said O’Donovan, adding how with no other music program in the school, this helps enhance the school’s art curriculum.

“The kids at the school are just amazing.”

The school’s principal Sari Small reported the student feedback she received from the workshop mostly started with the word “fun” and related a lot to the participation of the whole school and performing in front of an audience.

Read more: Big Lake Fishing Derby returns after two-year hiatus



ruth.lloyd@wltribune.com

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CaribooRural CanadaSchool District No 27 (Cariboo-Chilcotin)Williams Lake

 

Rick Magnell, bottom left, films some Big Lake School students as part of a music and video project. (Shannon O’Donavan photo)

Rick Magnell, bottom left, films some Big Lake School students as part of a music and video project. (Shannon O’Donavan photo)

Rick Magnell, bottom right, films Big Lake School students on the bus as part of a music and video project. (Shannon O’Donavan photo)

Rick Magnell, bottom right, films Big Lake School students on the bus as part of a music and video project. (Shannon O’Donavan photo)

Students of Big Lake School work with filmmaker Rick Magnell, bottom right, to make a music video for their school song. (Sari Small photo)

Students of Big Lake School work with filmmaker Rick Magnell, bottom right, to make a music video for their school song. (Sari Small photo)