Twelfth grade students who participate in both Major VI and the Novi Singers choir groups at Novi High School sing outside the school as part of the video.

Twelfth grade students who participate in both Major VI and the Novi Singers choir groups at Novi High School sing outside the school as part of the video.

Screenshot taken from “It’s a Snowday” music video

Novi High School students make music video to declare snow day

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published February 6, 2024

 Sophomore Ella Griffin wrote the lyrics to “It’s a Snowday” or “Cruel Winter,” as the kids call it. The song is a parody of Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer.”

Sophomore Ella Griffin wrote the lyrics to “It’s a Snowday” or “Cruel Winter,” as the kids call it. The song is a parody of Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer.”

Photo provided by the Novi Community School District


NOVI — The Novi Community School District announced its recent snow day with a music video featuring students and staff, including Superintendent Ben Mainka, which has now gone viral.

“It is a bit of a fun surprise when you see a video about a snow day. The staff love this as much as our students, and it is all just a light-hearted way to make the announcement,” Mainka said of his reason for doing a snow day video announcement.

The song, titled “It’s a Snowday,” a parody of Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer,” was written by Novi High School sophomore Ella Griffin. She is a huge Swift fan and said the lyrics just came to her after the school sent an email asking for song suggestions and submissions.

“I just, like, randomly thought of it and I kept building onto it every day,” Griffin said. “It just popped into my head.”

She said that it took her about three to four days to write the basic lyrics. She said there is a line in the original song that says, “It’s cool,” so she decided to take that and make it in correlation to a snow day by saying, “It’s cold.” Griffin said she probably thought of the song because it mentioned a season, but that the rewritten lyrics went really well with it.

Griffin was selected from approximately 20 students who expressed interest in writing a song for the video, according to George Sipple, a public relations representative for the Novi Community School District.

“I can tell you that myself, (teacher) Nick (LeTarte) and the superintendent — as soon as we saw the lyrics — like, I’m not a Taylor Swift fan, but as soon as we heard it and compared it to that song, it was like, well, this is one of the best that we had, and it just made a lot of sense, because it’s a Taylor Swift song. It’s really popular with the kids,” Sipple said. “I mean, she even wrote some of the parts that were for Ben. So it made sense. We knew that there was a lot of thought that was put into the words. So it was like an automatic for us.”

Once Griffin’s song was chosen, Novi High School Choir Director Claire Schurig was asked to select the best students to sing it. In all, nearly 100 students were involved in the process of making the video.

This is not Mainka’s first rodeo when it comes to performing and creating music videos. He had a viral video while he was the superintendent of Swartz Creek Community Schools.

“Music has always been an important part of my life, and I am a huge proponent for our students expressing themselves through the arts. I have been singing in choirs, music groups, a cappella groups, and most commonly, loudly in the car by myself. I think having the experiences that I had in Swartz Creek certainly helped me think about doing this again, but also provide a little different spin,” Mainka said. “This time, it was all about the kids. We had students pick the song, write the lyrics and perform the singing, as well. It was really neat to see the amazingly talented students in our school family get a chance to have fun but also showcase their talents.”

The video also provided members of the NCSD community a chance to see staff in a relaxed setting. Mainka is seen dancing, singing and sledding down a hill in the video.

“It is unusual, because the job of a superintendent has become so scrutinized. Most people in my job are afraid to show their true personality or to let people into that side of themselves, because we are so regularly judged. I believe strongly in professionalism, but I also want the students, staff and community to know me as a person and a human being.”

The singers featured in the video are all seniors who participate in both the Novi Singers, an advanced classical group, as well as Major VI, a pop a capella group.

“I loved the whole process because we got to practice with Mr. Mainka during the school day and we also got to go to a professional recording studio in Novi, and we also skipped a school day for that, so that was pretty cool,” said Hannah Jeong, one of the student singers featured in the video.

“It was pretty fun being with a group of friends and just doing something that will be a good product and will make people happy,” said Nico Wang.

Jeong said that she has watched LeTarte’s music videos online since she was a kid, and so the best part of the video for her was finally being able to participate in one of his videos.

“It was pretty cool, because we were always kind of looking forward to that in high school — just being in all of the fun videos,” Jeong said.

Wang and LeTarte said that they have heard a lot of positive feedback about the video from family and friends, as well as members of the community.

“A lot of people thought it looked like a lot of fun, which it was,” LeTarte said.

“My mom loved this video so much she, like, sent it to all my family and friends in India, here, like, everywhere. She really liked it and showed it to all her friends, and was like, ‘Look, my daughter’s singing,’” Nikhita Biju said.

LeTarte said that he started doing music videos a long time ago with teachers, and then a couple of his students inquired as to why students weren’t included in the videos. As a result, he has been making videos with the students for the last six or seven years.

“I thought it was a way to kind of reflect on school culture and what our school actually does and what it looks like. I felt like why, why are we letting other people tell the narrative, our story, when this is our real story?” said LeTarte, who teaches TV news and production, and broadcast communication. He also does videography projects for the district. “Music videos are fun, get everyone involved, but also kind of show what our school is.”

LeTarte said the greatest challenge with the filming of the video was simply coordinating schedules, as well as the last-minute rush to have the video put together in time to announce the snow day. LeTarte said he was asked early on the morning of the video’s release to complete the final edits on the video so that a snow day for Jan. 23 could be announced at 7 p.m. Jan. 22. LeTarte said he completed and turned in the final version of the video at 6:45 p.m.

Jaanvi Nuchanghla said that she wanted to participate in the video as it was a fun thing that Mainka wanted for the Novi district. After participating in the video, she and her brother did a “deep dive” on Mainka’s YouTube account and saw that he had done music videos before, including snow day videos.

“He’s pretty good of a singer, and he definitely had a discography of these kinds of snow day videos. So him doing them with us was a pretty cool experience,” she said of Mainika.

To film the video, the kids spent a day at a recording studio in Novi and some time outside Novi High School and at the middle school. Rithi Ramamurthy said she really enjoyed working at the studio, with an actual producer, being able to hear her own audio track and to see all the buttons and equipment used in a recording studio, as it was something she had never done before.

“My favorite part (of being in the video) was, honestly, recording in the studio. I think it was just such a cool experience. I don’t think I’ll really ever get an experience like that again,” said Ramamurthy.

“This was an opportunity to really showcase the abilities of our students in a fun and creative way. I think it has caused a lot of smiles and joy,” Mainka said. “My hope is that if we do more in the future, people will be proud of the talented students we have and remember that joy is an important part of the way we approach our work and lives.”

The video was sent out to the 6,000 students in the district, and within a few days it had more than 20,000 views. See it here on

Mainka would not confirm the possibility of future videos, but he said to “stay tuned” and,  “I do love a good surprise.”