At Martin High, the kids all stay in the picture

ARLINGTON -- For 40 minutes Thursday, Martin High School idled its state-recognized academic program and went bonkers.

There were lightsabers, Silly String, hand-held balls of flaming methane gas bubbles, body splatter painting, rocket launches, shaving-cream sliding -- a scene of colorfully choreographed chaos for a video project aimed at creating a sense of community at Arlington's largest high school.

"As large as we are, we have many separate groups, but we're not one school," said Doug Murray, a senior and a photography student who shot the fast-moving video, destined for YouTube by early next week. "The purpose of this project is to bring everyone together into one production."

The music video, with roles for almost all of Martin's nearly 3,400 students and 100-plus employees, is also the high school's contribution to a growing Internet craze: the "lip dub" video.

The productions commonly feature people taking turns lip-syncing lyrics to popular songs while leading the viewer through a gantlet of activities. A video has one continuous take with no edits.

Seeking a record

Martin's video was conceived and produced by the staff and advisers of The Warrior Post, the student newspaper. They believe that the final product will set two records: the largest cast for a school lip dub and the first schoolwide lip dub by a Texas high school.

The organizers even approached Guinness World Records for some recognition, but they were told that it would cost money for research and judging, photography teacher Dan Regalado said.

"We wanted to take the free way," said Regalado, whose wife, Tricia, is the journalism teacher. "But they said, 'Oh, you could try out for the largest air guitar.'"

Martin's video, set to Everybody Needs Somebody to Love by the Blues Brothers and Think by Aretha Franklin, starts in a bus in front of the school's main entrance. The first of several "singers" guides the viewer off the bus and through a double line of students cheering and tossing paper airplanes. Murray and the camera weave through hallways and classrooms, passing activities such as chemistry students lighting fires in their hands, biology students pigging out in a pie-eating contest and a student body-surfing on a crowd.

It ends in the gym 11 minutes later with a mock pep rally. Just to be safe, the school did it all over again after allowing students time to prepare for another close-up.

Seeking unity

Principal Melinda Reeves smiled. For her, the project wasn't about setting records or getting a million hits on YouTube. It was a solution to an issue raised in a districtwide survey in which Martin students said the No. 1 problem at their campus is a lack of unity.

"We have all these great little things," she said. "But bringing all of that together is kind of hard."

Murray was glad to have two takes because the first one was marred by errant strands of Silly String that struck the camera and rattled his concentration.

"The second time was awesome," he declared back in the photography classroom. As the process of scouring the video for "anything inappropriate" was getting under way, Murray was still breathless.

"This is the coolest school project I've ever done," he said.