Friday, November 5, 2010

School Pride

Well, Kingston Springs Elementary had its 15 minutes of fame on Friday, October 29, 2010 when it was the subject of NBC’s School Pride (  For those who don’t know, think Extreme Home Makeover for schools.  NBC chose Kingston Springs Elementary (KSES) because of the flooding we received back in May.  The school was under about 8 foot of water and everything in the school that wasn’t concrete was destroyed.  Both of my boys attended that school from K-4 and Momma Squire and I have numerous friends who work there or have children attend there.
I am not naïve enough to think that everything I see on TV is true nor do I believe everything I read on the Internet.    It was very interesting to see the show, how they portrayed our town, and wonder if who you could pick out on the TV.  Yes, there were viewing parties all over Kingston Springs that night.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I am very appreciative of what School Pride did for our school and our county.  Our county can’t fund the schools sufficiently to buy copy paper (another blog for another day), so I know that our county couldn’t have afforded to refurbish the school the way School Pride did it.  In fact, because we had insurance, the insurance proceeds were able to be used for basic items and donations from around the country and the School Pride project were able to outfit our school with items (think technology and creature comforts) that normally wouldn’t be available.  For that, I thank you, NBC. 
But, I love it when media or music folks “pull back the curtain” and tell or show us how things really happen.  Well, here is my chance to “pull back the curtain” on some things.  None are really bad, but mostly attributed to staging, etc.   Basically, the folks on the show are a muscle-bound dude, nerd dude, big black comic lady, and a former Miss America. 
Momma Squire, the eldest offspring, and I volunteered during the week the “build” was occurring and here are some tidbits from ”behind the curtain".
  • The show opened with the team driving to KSES and Kingston Springs for the first time.  Well, based upon the clip, they were about 1.5 miles past the school and driving away from it!  As the team was talking about the damage, they showed clips of River Plantation damage in Bellevue – 10 miles away .
  • The team had a huge countdown to start the clock ticking from seven days.  The problem was that the clock start was filmed in June at the announcement and the build was in late July.
  • They showed and promoted that Lady Antebellum performed a concert for the school on the reveal day.  Well, only Axel Rose would count it as a concert. They played one song and then did a second take of the same song.
  • During the week of the build, we “had” a huge bake sale in the city park to raise money for the build.  Well, we down there in the 100 degree heat to watch brownies melting.  They filmed the bake sale, even having the sale change its time to accommodate their filming schedule.  They had the teachers play in the splash pad with a local photographer taking their pictures to hang in the teacher’s lounge.  None of this made the show.  None.  Notta.  Zip point squat.
  • Kingston Springs overwhelmed these folks with our volunteer spirit.  They actually cut-off the volunteer sign up.  There were over 1,500 folks who came out and volunteered the week of the build.  I had a problem with the fact that they showed the team “working” and not any of the volunteers working.  The team would trot out, film a scene, and then go back into the RV (donated by a local resident). 
  • The show also leveraged local businesses into donating items such as landscaping, sound system and then when asked for a free plug – they were told that $100k got them on the banner and much more would get them a shot during the show.
  • Speaking of shots on the show – here is my favorite blooper.  We have a coffee shop ( run by two sisters, Amy and Katie.  These ladies served as the volunteer deployment center immediately after the flood – well before the various governmental agencies responded.  The School Pride team decided to profile the coffee shop and sisters for all their hard work.  Well, Nerd guy jumps in his car, pushes the OnStar button and asks for turn-by-turn directions to Red Tree Coffee.  Don’t need that GPS feature.  Turn left out of school, go maybe a mile and the shop is on your left.  Right after that, the OnStar commercial came on.
There you have it.  That is your behind the scenes look at a reality show.  I am very very grateful to School Pride and what they did for our elementary school and our community.  Speaking for that, sales tax collections for the month of July were over budget.  Thanks – our city and county needed that.  I just wanted to shed a little light on the subject.

Zach, A School Pride volunteer and a Tennessee Squire


  1. Hi Zach, Interesting post. I've been following the School Pride renovations in Los Angeles (at three schools). Could I email you some of my comments? Or send you a facebook message? I'd be curious to hear how the LA experiences compare to Kingston Springs'.
    Many thanks,
    Daina Solomon

  2. Sure Daina. I am at

  3. I guess the reality producers think reality isn't good enough tv.