The Astonishing YouTube Hit That Might Save a School

Let’s agree that most YouTube videos of cover songs by high school students are meant to entertain a small circle of friends and earn derisive snorts much beyond the school grounds. Few are so pure in intention and strikingly beautiful in execution that they break the heart of the original artist.

Canadian students Kate Macdonald and Janelle Blanchard recorded a version of Neko Case‘s brooding “Star Witness” on a school staircase. The result moved Case to tears. “Wow. That just made me bawl my eyes out,” she tweeted. “What beautiful singers. I’m not worthy… Holy god. They broke the shit out of my heart!!” Mine, too. They accomplish this with a ukelele, angelic voices, a talent for harmony — and a mission to save their school.

The Peterborough Collegiate and Vocational School houses an arts-intensive program that draws creative students from the Toronto area. But, in September, the local school board voted to close the school. It is the only school in downtown Peterborough and is described by locals as vital to the life of the community. Kate and Janelle took to the stairwell to record Case’s song to draw attention to the impending closure. That tweet from Case has the video (by Jared Raab) flying around the Internet. You don’t want to miss it. This is a tough time for school arts programs and these enormously talented students give the need to support arts in schools fresh faces and achingly clear voices.

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