EASTLAND — Eastland ISD Superintendent Jason Cochran had absolutely no idea singing a song on video was one of his skills.
Now, he and three other school district administrators can add the talent to their résumés.
Cochran and the others helped the district unveil the "Buy No More" program, an initiative to eliminate school supply purchases for students in prekindergarten through eighth grade and, more importantly, their parents.
He said his wife came up with an idea to make a parody video, and they chose Billy Ray Cyrus's "Old Town Road."
"We were completely out of our comfort zone," Cochran said. "We were trying to think of a creative way to get our message across. Our high school band director, Stephen Cox, is a whiz at editing and taught us all to sing, and we hit the ground running."
Cochran starts the video off behind his desk with aviator sunglasses on, exclaiming "You know what? It's a great day to be a Maverick," while a guitar strums the opening notes to the Cyrus tune.
As the song kicks in and he starts singing, he throws pens over his shoulder before the image switches over to Eastland Middle School Principal Jason Henry, who is rapping about pencils, glue sticks and more as he walks down the stairs at his school.
While the video is catchy, it also serves a purpose: To let parents in Eastland know they won't need to purchase school supplies if their child is in one of the lower grade levels.
And, Cochran said, the mission of the program is to be sustainable. So parents won't ever again need to do it. It's not just this one upcoming school year.
Jason Henry, principal at Eastland Middle School, performs in the "Buy No More" video announcing that the district will provide school supplies for grades prekindergarten through eighth.
In February, he said, administration approached teachers about their school supplies. They asked questions like, "What do you wish you had on your list at the start of the year?" and "What supplies do you end up buying out of your own pocket?"
Cochran said the school board managed its finances well and was able to fully purchase all of the supplies each teacher stated they needed, plus a few extra in case there are developments. Tissues? Check. Colored pencils? Check.
Everything needed for a successful day at school? Check.
"We bid it out to several vendors, and working with Eastland Office Supply, we were able to make this reality," Cochran said. "We'll be able to start Day 1 with every kid having all their stuff and teachers not having to lose a day. So, while this is great for parents, it also could mean we gain a day or two in the classroom" instead of dealing with students not having the necessary supplies at the get-go.
It doesn't cover everything students need to start the year, such as backpacks.
But there are other ways for parents to secure these items at reduced or no expense before the start of the year, Cochran said.
By Timothy Chipp
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