School house rock’d by Adam Calvert

Singer, songwriter and music video star Adam Calvert reaches out to an audience of Hackleburg High School students late last year during a concert in the school gym planned and executed by Family, Career & Community Leaders of America students and their teacher, Holly Chambers.

One of the most exciting days, if not the most exciting day, I’ve had so far back here at the Journal Record was my experience in Hackleburg when singer, songwriter and music video star Adam Calvert and his band and crew came through late last year.
We were short-staffed that day, so I didn’t get to stay for the entire concert, but I was totally blown away by what I did get to see and hear.
I’ve been to concerts in big cities and the stage production put on in Hackleburg High School’s gym was certainly no less than spectacular.
And this was no usual concert. The idea for the entire event began in a teacher’s mind. HHS’ Holly Chambers teaches Family, Career and Community Leaders of America classes. She also has a special entrepreneurship class, with a nine-week curriculum.
Through a partnership with “Reach and Teach,” a non-profit educational program which looks for schools and classes to work with to help students learn how to plan, promote and execute concerts, Holly’s class was able to obtain teamwork and real-work experience.
Students gained knowledge before the show in budgeting, logistics and marketing. They selected the band and attended zoom meetings with them and Reach and Teach officials. They found the sponsors and also priced the event to raise funds for an upcoming class field trip. They even designed and sold their own t-shirts.
Holly said she stayed “in the background” and allowed her students to take the lead. “All this teaches them so much,” she said. “And these experiences allow them to learn what would work best if they were doing any of this for their own business.”
On the day of the concert, the students arrived at 6 a.m. to help load in all the band’s equipment, as well as all the equipment used by ImaginEx.
As part of Reach & Teach, ImaginEx is an immersive career fair-type of experience, identified as “where creativity meets careers.”
In their high school gym, students were able to visit different stations prior to the concert and engage with professionals in the broadcasting industry for behind-the-scenes looks at various avenues of employment.
Stations included camera operations, soundboards, lighting, telecommunications, podcasting, concert poster production and more. Students learned how to digitally design, direct, produce and manage news casting and broadcasting tasks.
When I arrived at the gym, the students and professionals were breaking down most of the ImaginEx equipment to begin to prepare for the concert.
I walked up to one gentleman who was wrapping up an extension cord near the stage and asked him how the students liked their hands-on learning experiences. He said they seemed to enjoy everything very much, and then he introduced himself. It was Adam!
Unknowingly, out of all the people in the gym, I’d somehow found my way to the star of the show, laughingly working as a stage hand, saying “this is what pays the bills.”
Just a little while prior, I’d watched a few of his music videos and had been amazed by his talented writing and performing. “Comes In Waves” was my favorite. I also liked “Who I Wanna Be.” There weren’t any of Adam’s songs I didn’t like. Many of his songs I also knew from radio. He is very popular, not only as a performer, but also as the host of MTV’s “Taking The Stage,” reality show.
I’m still not sure how I didn’t recognize Adam right away, but he was very cool about the whole situation. He actually seemed to enjoy getting to be just one of the guys talking to a local reporter for a few minutes.
Adam was very humble. He was very kind. He was extremely helpful the entire time I was there, speaking with his band, the ImaginEx crew  and all the students hurrying about, still performing all their duties.
Next on the agenda for my quick trip was a visit to the “green room,” as it is called in entertainment circles. It’s the place where the food and beverages are kept and where the performers relax before their shows.
The HHS students certainly showed off their cooking and hospitality skills here. C.J. Barnette, an engineer who runs sound for Reach and Teach, said the food layout was “a lot better than some green rooms,” they’d experienced while on tour.
Paige Simpson, an 11th grader, who was 17 at the time of the concert, said she really enjoyed meeting the crew and helping to set up the show.
“I liked seeing them teach everybody about what they do on a daily basis,” she said. “It was a great experience. This was very different for Hackleburg. There’s a lot of exciting things going on today.”
Now it was time for soundcheck for the concert. Adam and his band and crew allowed me access to take as many photographs as I wanted, both in front of the stage and from on stage--a rare opportunity.
Tour manager Paige Hardwick and all the band members were incredibly gracious and giving from first contact to the last goodbye. Along with Adam, there was Jack Ryan (bass), Caleb Gossage (drums), Damon Mitchell (guitar) and Ted Calvert (bus driver and electrician). I didn’t get a full list of all the crew, but I believe I may have gotten a photo of most everyone. (Please see our photo page in this edition on page seven and our Gallery section online at
One of the highlights of the show was when HHS Sophomore Brody Wood, who has been playing guitar for eight years, was invited to perform with Adam and his band. I was able to grab a few photos of the aspiring artist at work during soundcheck, but he also played during the concert itself.
Brody noted, “It’s amazing to be able to do something like this. For all of us students, it’s very energizing.”
As the crowds began to come in, the excitement level kicked up a few more notches. These students had worked for weeks to set up this concert, and now it was show time!
I tried to find a place out of the way backstage. There was a platform set up there, about a foot high, and I asked one of the band members if it was okay to take photos from there. I imagined the high angle would be good to grab some of the crowd shots as the concert began.
Again...little did I know. The lights went up, the crowd began to shout and here came Adam from backstage--to stand right there on the same elevated platform. Whoops!  
But it was great! I’d seen him wrapping wires, being the professional band headliner behind the scenes and now, in an instant, he turned into a superstar right in front of my eyes! Charisma just flowed off Adam in waves. He began singing and then jumped off the platform and high into the air, landing front and center stage--continuing to sing the entire time.
I still get chills writing this. Adam is amazing. He is a truly gifted performer. I will remain a fan forever. He and his band put on a fantastic show for HHS students and other attendees. The entire program was top caliber all the way.
The gym was completely transformed into a concert venue, with all the lighting, sound and stage design--all helped along by dedicated students, their inspired teacher and people that love sharing their skills and talents to possibly direct youth on a path to fulfill their dreams while also earning a living.
Reach and Teach and ImaginEx are opening exciting doors for students across the U.S. I’m wondering just how many big and extraordinary careers may have begun right here in a small town on an unordinary day.
Keep your eye (and ears) on Adam. And on Brody, as well. Thank you, Hackleburg, HHS students and Adam and band and crew, for giving me some memories to cherish I never imagined experiencing beforehand. You were all so welcoming. I am forever grateful. Well done, everyone!

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