Ten songs. One Video.
It’s how all 930 Thomas Jefferson High School students came together to say goodbye to the building that has served as TJ’s home for the past 60 years.
On May 24, the entire student body lined the hallways, auditorium, cafeteria and gymnasium to film a lip dub — a video of students lip-syncing to music — to commemorate the past six decades of TJ. The video will be posted on the district’s social media accounts.
They gathered with their clubs or sports teams, dressed in football uniforms from the ’70s, cheerleading uniforms from the ’80s, and baseball and basketball uniforms from throughout the decades. TJ alumni selected each song to represent the decade during which they graduated.
“We’re doing this to showcase what we’re all about here at TJ and to showcase that we do remember our past,” said sophomore Nathan Mutale, 15. “To move on to the next school, we have to lay this school down.”
A new high school will open less than a mile down the street from TJ’s first home for the 2019-20 school year. Thomas Jefferson High School opened in its current building in 1959, with the first class graduating in 1960.
Senior Victoria Weisbrod had the idea for the lip dub as a way to unite the school. It’s something everyone could participate in and feel involved, she said.
The lip dub was organized by the school’s public relations class. They thought about doing the entire video to the NSYNC song “Bye Bye Bye,” but they wanted to highlight every TJ graduating class.
“We figured, what better way to showcase everyone and send a proper goodbye than to include all of the alumni’s experiences and all of the major history events that happened?” Mutale said.
Students came up with six songs from each of the past six decades that would be doable in a lip dub but also “encapsulated that era,” said senior John Adams, 18.
Alumni were asked to vote on their favorite song from their graduation decade. As many as 800 voted.
Ultimately, they selected two songs to represent the 1960s, “Good Vibrations” and “Respect”; two to represent the 1980s, “Another One Bites the Dust” and “Footloose”; and two to represent the 2000s, “Yeah!” and “Hey Ya!”
Every other decade had one song to represent it. For the 1970s, it was “Saturday in the Park.” For the 1990s, the song was “Ice Ice Baby.” The 2010s were represented by “Party Rock Anthem.”
The lip dub ends with a live performance of TJ’s alma mater.
They filmed in parts of the school people would remember the most. The video features the seafoam green hallways, the auditorium, the gymnasium and the football field.
Student PJ Chonko was brought in to help pull it all together. He filmed the lip dub while on rollerblades, skating backwards through the halls for parts of it.
Every student had an opportunity to be included.
“Every single club and every single sport is in it,” said senior Alanna Lynch, 17.
Students who are not part of a club stood in “The Jungle” or spirit section.
Including alumni in the process made the final product that much more special, students said.
“They’re what made TJ,” Mutale said. “TJ isn’t just us, the four classes in this building right now, but it’s all of the past classes starting from 1960 and beyond.”
The hope is that bringing everyone together will boost morale, said Jacob Else, 18.
“It also enforces the notion that tradition never graduates,” Adams said.