High School Nation donates $20,000 recording studio to Hemet High School
■ By Kyle Selby / Reporter
Hemet High School rocked out on May 1 during a completely free, two-hour, all-student assembly, orchestrated by High School Nation, featuring popular rock band Plain White T’s in the grass field on the corner of Dartmouth Street and Stetson Avenue.
Plain White T’s headlined the show, performing such hit songs as “Our Time Now,” “Rhythm of Love,” and “1, 2, 3, 4,” closing with “Hey There Delilah.” Opening for the Plain White T’s were Just Seconds Apart, a pop band of 17-year-old triplets from Arizona; Alex B, a 17-year-old pop singer from Philadelphia; rock musician Elle Ranae from Atlanta, Georgia; and 15-year-old singer/songwriter Bella Eysée.
High School Nation Tour, a traveling music and arts festival, visits public high schools all across the country, introducing students to opportunities in the arts. The event on Monday provided students the opportunity to learn about the music industry, and also offered Hemet High students painting stations, tie-dye T-shirt and hat design/printing stations, and digital media, dancing, and gaming activities before and after the show. Before the concert, Hemet High’s vocal music, band and theater students met with some of the performers, the DJ, and the event organizer in the high school theater, where the students asked questions that the High School Nation (HSN) team answered.
Back in March, HSN founder Jimmy Cantillon sent an email to Hemet High music teachers and administrative team, inviting the school to participate. Daryl Drinkwater, one of Hemet High’s assistant principals, emailed back and called the event organizer – he was the first to respond so Hemet High was selected.
“We were selected toward the end of March,” explained Hemet High School Principal Dr. Emily Shaw. “But then we needed to get approval from our Superintendent and Education Services Division.”
Cantillon called Dr. Shaw on stage during the concert to thank her on behalf of High School Nation, while also making another surprising announcement for Hemet High School.
“Bulldogs, our way of saying thank you for hosting us, is High School Nation is donating a full recording studio for free to your high school,” declared Cantillon in between two of Plain White T’s performances. The fully functioning recording studio is valued at about $20,000, installed by the HSN team. The studio will be available to Hemet High’s arts teachers full-time for trouble-shooting and lesson planning.
According to Cantillon, HSN will be visiting 60 U.S. schools this year, the most they’ve visited in one calendar year thus far. HSN’s last show in California will be Friday in Sacramento, before they head to Washington.
Plain White T’s lead singer Tom Higgenson stayed behind after the show to greet and take pictures with fans. “Hemet High is amazing,” he told The Valley Chronicle. “Seriously, best crowd of this tour so far. I’m having a blast.”
Dr. Shaw is grateful for the concert and donation, and hopes she gets the chance to participate with HSN once again.
“If [High School Nation] is ever available in the future, we certainly would take advantage of it in the future,” she said. “It was a great opportunity.”