June 15th, 2024

The Fresh Prince of G.S. Lakie

By Dale Woodard on June 24, 2021.

photo Submitted by Kristi Legge - G.S. Lakie Middle School students perform in a music video based on the 90's sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the past school year really has been a story about how Lethbridge students’ lives got flipped-turned upside down.
So it was fitting that when it came time for G.S. Lakie Middle School to do another of their feature video productions, they settled on The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air.
With G.S. Lakie performing arts teacher Kristi Legge behind the camera, students from Grades 8B, 7B and 7D – led by Emmit DeCillia playing the role of Fresh Prince – busted out their best hip hop moves in a remake of the classic TV show, complete with the opening basketball court scene and the wayward shot that kicks everything off.
The final result is The Fresh Prince of Middle School.
While The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air pre-dates the current students of G.S. Lakie by nearly a decade, the students demonstrate they appreciate sitcoms from yesteryear.
And yes, they know how to dance The Carlton.
“We did a staff I Will Survive parody, a Halloween video and a Christmas video,” said Legge. “We hadn’t done anything really hip hop related and we’ve got a lot of kids that obviously love that. So that was part of our focus.
“We also noticed a lot of students are watching the same TV shows that we grew up watching. So that was a neat way to relate to each other. We also don’t have a ton of rap experience. We wanted to tell a bit of a story.”
The video features the musical production of teacher Sheldon Arvay, costume design by Lori Adamson and a guest beat-box performance from language arts teacher Nick Rickards.
In the video, the Fresh Prince – DeCillia – gets into trouble shooting some b-ball outside of the school and is sent to G.S. Lakie principal Brad Dersch’s office.
When he arrives at the office – after taking a few detours along the way – the Fresh Prince notices his principle is nowhere to be found.
Getting on his principal’s phone and posing as Dersch, the Fresh Prince calls Lethbridge School Division superintendent Cheryl Gilmore to ask for early class dismissal.
At the end of the video, Dersch emerges from a meeting, notices his empty school and looks quizzically into the camera, wondering where all the students went.
“He’s a rock climber. He’s not a rapper, he’s not a dancer,” said Legge of DeCillia. “That was one of the benefits of teaching these cohorts this year. We’ve met all these students who probably never would have taken dance, but now we’ve got them enrolled for music or acting or art. I feel all of the exposure we’ve had just because it’s been a little bit of everything has given them new interests that they were maybe apprehensive to get involved in.”
Arvay was in charge of the production end of the video, said Legge.
“(With) an electronic music program he’s got the state-of-the-art Nuendo, which is what they use with a lot of professional recording companies. So the kids are pretty spoiled there.”
Needing a beat box performance, Rickards filled the role.
“I’ve always wanted to incorporate some beat boxing because that’s one of the elements of hip hop culture, but that was actually recorded by accident,” said Legge. “When we were doing a sound check in August with Mr. Rickards. I thought he was really good at that and we should somehow include it. Then everyone got sent online and we weren’t able to do a proper recording of it so we used it.”
Legge shot the entire video on her phone.
“It’s amazing what you can do now,” she said. “If anything, we needed to find elements of performance we wouldn’t get without the live performance. I feel like you wouldn’t get those intimate closeups with a live performance. You have that flat, one-dimensional view. That’s something I really tried to do this year, have a 360-degree view and really zoom in at times to connect with our performers.”
The Fresh Prince video isn’t the first time G.S. Lakie has used Gilmore in their productions.
The superintendent also had a cameo in last year’s remake of Achy Breaky Heart.
“Any time we can bring in more characters and staff and community members, I think it’s fun for the kids to see them in a different light,” said Legge. “Cheryl Gilmore was a good sport about it as well and our resource officers have been amazing to the point where after this project, we decided we might have them perform at our dance show next year.”
The Fresh Prince of Middle School video debuted last week.
“The kids watched it (last) Monday and they were so excited to be in the news, they were ecstatic,” said Legge, noting the pandemic of the past year made things difficult.
“It’s been such a yo-yo going online and then back in school and I was worried we weren’t going to be able to finish it, but luckily during lunch hours we were quickly able to get it done. Normally we do multiple, big live productions at our school. I feel that at least having a virtual audience was better than nothing.”
The video also demonstrates middle school students appreciate sitcoms that were around well before then were born.
“You see the shirts they wear, they do The Carlton Dance,” said Legge. “You ask them where that’s from and they tell you ‘Fresh Prince’. Not all of them, but there is definitely a good majority of kids who are watching a lot of these vintage shows like Friends and Fresh Prince. It’s kind of cool that we can share that with them.”
Though The Carlton Dance isn’t featured in the video, it is included in the video’s promo, featuring a gif of the actual Carlton – Alfonso Ribeiro – doing the dance.
“I figured no one can do it as well as him,” said Legge.
The Fresh Prince of Middle School can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Llp6gagBIlA

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