SORRY MOM & DAD: Roaring for education

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First Posted: 10/1/2013

I will never forget the question I was asked on the first day of my internship at “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

“Where do all of you go to school?” inquired one of the late-night show’s producer’s to the entire group of new interns.

“NYU!” shouted the perkiest intern of the bunch.

“I attend Brown University,” answered the next.

“California University of Pennsylvania,” I followed.

“I don’t even know what that means!” replied the producer, confused that such a place existed.

“Why didn’t I just lie and say I went to Princeton?” I asked my mother, embarrassed, as I caught up with her about my first day over the phone that evening.

“Who cares where you go to school? Look where you’re at now!” she noted. “It doesn’t matter where you get your education.”

A few years later – just last week to be exact – I spent the day with a group of people who helped me realize the lesson my mother was trying to teach me all along.

“Justin!” screamed my 12-year-old little sister one day. “Will you please film a lip-sync music video at my school?”

She then handed me her iPad, displaying a link to a contest hosted by “Good Morning America,” challenging schools to explain why their school ROARS while lip-syncing to the No. 1 song “Roar” by Katy Perry. The winning school will be featured on “Good Morning America” as Perry comes to their school and performs a live concert.

Since I’ve been known to film a lip-sync music video just to document a trip to the mall, I could not pass on the opportunity to film one that could help me meet Katy Perry.

I spent last Friday filming the video with the entire Fell Charter School in Fell Township. I was pumped up when I was greeted by a faculty and student body wearing costumes that ranged from a roaring lion to a robot, a group of girls that choreographed a dance routine, and a teacher that volunteered to let a student throw a cake in his face for comedic relief.

However, my mind was blown when I read the essay written by the students that explained why they felt their school roared.

They talked about how when Fell Charter School first opened, their classrooms were a group of trailers. During the winter months, they explained, they would have to put on coats to exit the classroom and go to the bathroom in another trailer. They never minded, because the teachers provided an atmosphere that made it feel like home for them while giving them a great education. Even though they started from the bottom, they now are roaring with a brand new school that was just built for them this year!

They realized what I was too stupid to realize as an intern: It doesn’t matter where you get an education. Some people get their education on the streets, from work or life experience, while others get their education in a row of trailers, or at a state college with a funny name. What matters is where you end up with it. That’s what makes you roar!