High School teacher parodies 'Hamilton' to energize online classes

A Racine Horlick High School teacher was looking for a way to energize and inspire his students before beginning the school year remotely. He turned to the hit musical "Hamilton."

Brian Plehn is comfortable at centerstage -- his classroom a renovated theater.

"I just want people to laugh. That's really my style," Plehn said.

As the choir director at Horlick, Plehn ensures the space is normally filled with harmony, the blending of voice, pitch and friendship.

"What we all know is that choir isn't just singing. It's that community that kids want," said Plehn.

It is a community that is tougher to build from behind a webcam. So, Plehn did what any choir director would do; he rewrote the lyrics to "You'll be Back" from Hamilton.

Though no one else was in the room where it happened, it is a gesture his students admire.

"I thought it was really campy, but I loved it," said Matthew Dwyer, a Horlick senior. "It was a breath of fresh air from the day-in-day-out cycle."

"It was just really cool to have that, rather than just an email to, 'Hey, check your Google classroom or something like that,'" Colman Doering, a Horlick senior, said.

It's one way Plehn is trying to keep a class so dependent on human interaction as personal as he can until they're all together again.

"It's tough. It's a little bit easier for some of my colleagues to do this, but this is what I do, is building community, and I really miss it," said Plehn.

Plehn said he got the idea after collaborating with other choir teachers. He has used it to teach his students about parody, among other things.