By Emily Sorensen
A Poway High senior has turned a simple YouTube video into something bigger.
Callie Gilbert, who is an academic tutor with Poway High School’s 6th period Critical Needs class, has turned a plea for a pop star to visit into her senior project, and awakened a previously unknown passion in herself.
Gilbert and the students of the 6th period Critical Needs class, taught by Erin Nixon, have made a YouTube video, “The Bieber Project,” asking pop star Justin Bieber to come to the upcoming Special Olympics Friday, Dec. 14, which will be hosted at Poway High School. In the video, the students share what they like best about Bieber, and dance to his song “All Around the World.” As of press time, the video had over 287,000 hits on YouTube.
“The class just loves Justin Bieber,” said Gilbert. “They think he’s inspirational.” Gilbert joined “Best Pals” last year, a group at the high school that integrates average and special education students. Inspired by her love of working with the students, Gilbert signed up as an academic tutor for her senior year in the Critical Needs course, where she does everything from helping the students wash dishes to helping with homework.
When the students expressed an interest in asking Justin Bieber to be a guest at the Special Olympics, which many of them will be competing in, they sat down with Gilbert and brainstormed ideas. While initially the students wrote letters, asking Bieber to attend, Gilbert and the students finally decided on making a music video.
She booked time in the school’s digital media studio, and when she told her brother Myles, a filmmaker who lives in the Bay Area what she was doing, he flew down to assist her.
The video, and the campaign behind it, has so consumed Gilbert that it has become her senior project for school. Originally, Gilbert said she had been considering shadowing a marine biologist, a passion of hers, but her work with the Critical Needs class changed her mind. “I’ve never been so passionate about something,” said Gilbert, who said she’s now considering a career working in special education.
Though there’s been no response from Bieber or his team yet, Gilbert said the response on YouTube and from the media has been overwhelming. “We are very blessed and excited to have such a response,” said Gilbert. She and the video appeared on Channel 10 News, and she also had other media interviews. “We already consider it a success,” said Gilbert. “They’re proud of themselves, and I’m proud of them.”
What would Gilbert do if her video works, and Bieber shows up at the Special Olympics? “I don’t know what I’d do. Maybe I’d run away at first,” said Gilbert. “The students would be excited.”
The Special Olympics will feature 250 athletes from the Poway Unified School District, as well as staff and volunteers, like Gilbert, and will be held 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14 at Poway High School, Bieber or no Bieber.