Saskatchewan singer/songwriter, Jeffery Straker, brought his talents to Central School in Swift Current on Friday for a songwriting workshop.
The workshop saw 21 students from grades 5 to 8 write a song with Straker about Central School.
Straker says that the theme of the song is centred around the school’s motto of being ‘Cougar Strong’.
"The school has done a lot of work on the vision and what does it mean to be ‘cougar strong’, and what the students should be doing in class and at breaks to be ‘cougar strong’," he said. "They've all heard this before, and now the song is a way for the students to sing at assemblies and for them to use the language around ‘cougar strong’ in another way to try and get the words out there and have them thinking about it."
Straker adds that he tries to do songwriting workshops like this a few times a year and that this isn't his first time working with Central School music teacher Celia Hammerton.
"I've done a few with Celia Hammerton, and I really enjoy doing them with her," he said. "I did one at Central school a couple of years ago where she had the students go through this process, and we then had written a song that they performed at Telemiracle. Then at Centennial school, we wrote a theme song.”
He says that he likes doing these workshops because it gives him the opportunity to do something different and to teach kids about music.
"I write songs, record them, and tour them, like of my own thoughts and a songwriter’s life in this little bubble a lot," he said. "It's really neat to get out of that bubble and flex your songwriting muscles in a totally different direction, and it's a challenge, raining in 21 people to make a song. With that many people, it's really hard, so I thrive on that challenge."
Straker is a native of Punnichy, Saskatchewan has released seven albums over his 12-year career in music.
He adds that the kids did really well and that he can’t wait until the song gets to be performed at the school.
"They did a great job - in addition to not just putting together words that rhyme, they've actually made good poetry which is not easy," he said. "It's hard to say to someone ‘make me some poetry’… that's a very abstract concept, but they've done a great job."
Hammerton talked about why she likes bringing in Jeffery Straker to do these workshops.
"I think he is very good working with the students and he is very good at teaching them about the songwriting process," she said. "They get to understand a little bit about songwriting, how it works, how to put a song together and then they can use their own ideas and their own creativity to explore a different form of writing."
Hammerton added that the students are excited about how the song turned out and that they plan to unveil the song in about a month or so at a school assembly.
Straker was also at Central School on Thursday as he performed in front of a full crowd to raise money for the school's Telemiracle fund.
"It's been a pleasure to be here and to do this," he said. "It helped Celia and her group who is going to sing on Telemiracle raise a lot of money that they're going to take as a donation on the stage when they do their performance so it was fun to be a part of that too and they had a really nice audience."
Hammerton says that they were able to raise about $3,000 bringing their total to $4,000 so far.
"It was a great night; he did a great performance," she said. "I had lots of really positive comments about what a great evening people have had, and people came out and were very generous with their bids on the silent auction."