Aims to educate his students on school’s mission statement
By Jill Kruse
Witness Editorial Assistant
BELLEVUE — He may not have the fame of rap artists like Dr. Dre or Jay Z – at least not yet — but the principal of Marquette Catholic Schools in Bellevue does have something of a budding rap career of his own. And he has the music video to prove it.
Last month, Principal Geoffrey Kaiser decided to ask Marquette’s K-12 students how they were incorporating the school’s new mission statement into their daily lives. He began posing that question to them as he saw them on their way to class or lunch or recess, but he soon discovered that many students weren’t even familiar with what was actually in the mission statement. Kaiser knew he wanted to do something to change that.
Thinking that music might help communicate Marquette’s mission to its students in a fun, engaging and more memorable way, Kaiser went to work creating a rap video that detailed what the school strives to help its students become: academically driven leaders, responsible contributors and active Christian stewards.
“I began to write the music shortly after I had spoken to students, and once I had created the instrumental sounds, I then focused my attention on the words,” Kaiser recalled. “The Easter break gave me time to finally record the song and to record and edit the video.”
The principal said he got help from Andy Bishop, the high school’s English teacher, who came in over Easter break to do the backup voice in the song. Kaiser’s wife, Kelsey, despite being pregnant and expecting the couple’s first child within weeks, also helped with recording and editing. Kaiser estimates the entire project took about 15 hours to complete.
The four-minute video that resulted stars Kaiser singing – and sometimes dancing – to a catchy rap beat while in the school’s gymnasium, classrooms and hallways. The video seems to strike just the right balance between being lighthearted and informative as it drives home the three pillars of Marquette’s mission statement. The school’s Catholic identity is made clear throughout, and the video even concludes with the voice of Kelsey Kaiser reciting the Prayer of St. Francis before fading to black.
Once finished, the video was posted on the Marquette Catholic Schools Facebook page. From there, many parents shared it with their children at home and teachers with their students while in class. Kaiser said he’s been amazed by the number of people who have viewed the video in such a short amount of time. More than 10,000 people clicked to watch it in just the first couple of days after it was posted.
“What surprised me even more (than the number of people who viewed it) was the number of past students that commented on the video about how much they loved our school then and how proud they are to be an alum now,” reflected Kaiser. “And I was overwhelmed by the kindness expressed by current students and families and all who commented on their excitement for our school’s future.”
In addition to Facebook, the popular video has also been shared on the Marquette Catholic Schools website at www.marquettecatholic.com.
And while there’ve been no live performances of the song at school for the students so far, Kaiser doesn’t seem to rule out the possibility of that happening in the future. “Who knows,” he said, “we still have a lot of school in these next two months!”
Whether ever performed live or not, Kim Hermsen, the superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Dubuque, is already very pleased with the principal’s work. “The video that Mr. Kaiser created to help students remember the pillars of their mission statement is awesome! It was so creatively put together and is engaging for the students,” she said, with a great deal of enthusiasm.
“The effort that he put into this video not only fosters the school mission statement but promotes school pride in a unique and fun way.”
Kaiser remains humble despite the large amount of praise he’s received over the rap video and insists he isn’t the one deserving the accolades. “It was our students and the great things that they do that inspired the lyrics,” he said. “Our students are the stars of our school.”
(Photo: Marquette Catholic Schools Principal Geoffrey Kaiser is shown in a screen shot from the video that was posted on Facebook.)