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Westminster Christian’s ‘Another Day Of Masks’ Is The Pandemic Parody We Needed

In the 2016 hit movie “La La Land,” aspiring actors and actresses leap out of their cars in an L.A. traffic jam to sing about “Another Day of Sun.” Now Westminster Christian Academy in suburban St. Louis may have landed on the perfect 2020 parody version: “Another Day of Masks.”

The video depicts students at the private high school in Town and Country juggling Zoom calls, plexiglass barriers and social distancing restrictions — and, yes, getting an education and participating in a few extracurriculars, too — all while wearing masks.

The conceit comes courtesy of the school’s director of marketing and communications, Mike Rohlfing. He wanted a snazzy, Oscars-style intro to the annual (now virtual) talent show he was producing for students.

“I’m a big fan of ‘La La Land,’” he explained on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, “and at first I thought ‘Another Talent Show’? No. How about ‘Another Day of Masks’? And it went from there.” Rohlfing wrote the lyrics one night at home, rhyming dictionary in hand, and then supervised the student actors and singers throughout several weeks of filming.

Senior Sam Parker Stillman said that he signed on as talent show co-host, and things just took off from there. “As we progressed it just turned into this big opening musical number, and I was all for it,” he said. “It was awesome.”

The result is an impressively choreographed and winningly performed tribute to the new normal for students, or at least those students fortunate enough to attend in-person.

Westminster Christian Academy has been back since August, Rohlfing said, albeit with a shorter day and along with plenty of precautions. About 10% of the school’s 900 students have opted for the virtual model, a group that includes Stillman’s co-star, junior Xavier May (May’s online participation is used to good comedic effect in the video).

Rohlfing said he took pains while filming to follow the rules being depicted on screen.

“At the very least, when we had more than one person on screen, they were all wearing masks,” he said. “The dance team did special choreography and they made sure they were a few feet apart from each other. Everything we did catered to that as much as possible.”

As for Stillman, he said he’s managed to find joy even in what might seem like a depressing senior year. He’s delighted that the swim team was able to have its season, and that teachers found a way to have the talent show, even if it was virtual.

“With everything going on, it’s very easy to be negative and think about the bad things of this year, but when you have the talent show, and you have things to look forward to all year, it’s really cool,” he said. “All my friends and I, we find ways to have fun at school.” Referring to the Plexiglass barriers students now tote from class to class, “We had a ‘Divider Dance’ in the talent show. There’s things like that we can have fun with, and make the best out of this year.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

Copyright 2021 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Sarah Fenske joined St. Louis Public Radio as host of St. Louis on the Air in July 2019. Before that, she spent twenty years in newspapers, working as a reporter, columnist and editor in Cleveland, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and St. Louis. She won the Livingston Award for Young Journalists for her work in Phoenix exposing corruption at the local housing authority. She also won numerous awards for column writing, including multiple first place wins from the Arizona Press Club, the Association of Women in Journalism (the Clarion Awards) and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. From 2015 to July 2019, Sarah was editor in chief of St. Louis' alt-weekly, the Riverfront Times. She and her husband, John, are raising their two young daughters and ill-behaved border terrier in Lafayette Square.