Richland One principal raps to help uplift students after difficult year

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 7:47 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Students across the country have had an incredibly tough year as they were forced to adapt to pandemic learning, including our students here in the Midlands.

That’s why one Richland One principal wanted to go the extra mile to make sure his students had a reason to smile. You may think it’s Drake rapping on the track, but it’s actually W.J. Keenan High Principal Vondre T. Whaley.

Whaley has been rapping all year to help keep his students and teachers motivated, and at first, you could say they were a little skeptical.

But after the laughter wore off, they started to really listen.

“After I listened to it for a while, I realized it was motivational and was helping me with my work,” one student said. That’s exactly what Principal Whaley hoped would be the result of his rhymes.

“I started with the rap songs at the start of COVID, which was last year, as a means to connect with students to get them to log online,” Whaley said. “I thought it’d be cool for them to see their principal rapping. We ultimately want them to go out and change the world, so we are sharing that with them through music, which is a medium that they can relate to.”

With new rules, less social interaction, and distanced learning, Whaley says he wanted to create something for his students to look forward to that would keep them motivated during the toughest of times.

“If you think about how it’s been taxing on us as adults, imagine what it’s done with our young people,” Whaley said. “So we’ve been really trying to do various things to keep our young people engaged, and keep an open line of communication.”

Regardless of what students think of Whaley’s rhymes, the consensus on his character is clear.

“He’s very involved with the students and trying to connect with them,” one student said.

Other students say the raps have given them something to look forward to throughout the school year.

Principal Whaley says he could win a rap battle against any principal who may want to challenge him.

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