- Associated Press - Saturday, January 30, 2016

SUMMERSVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - One West Virginia superintendent has harnessed the joy students feel on snow days through music, and is receiving national recognition for his musical school cancellation messages.

Nicholas County Superintendent Keith Butcher has been turning famous songs into snow day parodies for four years, but his recent rendition of Adele’s hit “Hello” went viral.

The songs are sent out on a voice messaging system, and have been recorded and shared as song files thousands of times across social media.

“It has been surreal. I now know what the word viral means,” he shared.

Butcher has been featured on various news outlets both across West Virginia and nationally. His Adele rendition, which asks, “Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if since it’s so cold you’d stay at home and have a snow day?” was played on Headline News, Morning Express with Robin Meade and he’s had a live interview with Fox and Friends about the song.

He said he wasn’t prepared to sing on the spot, but was asked to perform the popular Adele remix live on air.

The idea for musical school cancellation messages is nothing new, he explained.

While working as superintendent of Fayette County, Butcher said he often sang at the central office in Fayetteville. Employees noticed another school district used music to announce late days and snow days and suggested he try it.

Butcher, who has a music education degree from Concord University, said one of the best things about his efforts has been seeing the creative suggestions he gets from teachers, students and parents.

“I really enjoy looking at their creative idea and lyrics. I don’t rap, but I’m willing to do any suggestion within my limited musical ability,” he said.

On Monday, Butcher did a rendition of The Beatles’ famous “Let it Be.” - “When I find myself in winter weather, then the students question me. Will there be a snow day? Let it be.”

Community response has been positive, although some parents have suggested it’s “not their thing” to listen to someone sing at 4:30 a.m., so Butcher said he tries to only use the musical messages if alerts are sent out in the afternoon or evening.

However, the musical messages do seem to be the students’ kind of thing.

Three Nicholas County middle schoolers made their own Adele parody song Monday night, singing and performing as if it were a school closure message for Tuesday.

School was not closed Tuesday, he said.

“I found out about it because so many people wanted to find out if school was closed today,” he explained laughing. “It was fantastic to see students being really creative.”

“Having a music degree, I’m all about supporting the arts, any chance to spur the creativity of students. I think its so impressive to me that they would spend time to create something in a musical format,” he added.

Also this semester, Butcher did a rendition of The Eagles’ “Take it Easy,” and hundreds of requests are stacking up.

“The next time I see a snow day coming up, I’ll look at them and see what’s possible. I get a lot of requests for ‘Country Roads,’ so I could see myself doing John Denver in the future,” he added.

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Information from: The Register-Herald, http://www.register-herald.com

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