By RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Students from an Indiana high school wrecked by tornadoes awaited word Tuesday about whether on online campaign supported by other schools in their state and beyond will land them a prom-night performance by Grammy-winning country trio Lady Antebellum.
Schools from Indiana to northern Wisconsin — even one in a similarly tornado-ravaged Illinois community — submitted YouTube videos urging the country trio to choose Henryville, Ind., as the winner of its "Own the Night" contest. The winner to be announced Tuesday gets a 45-minute Lady Antebellum concert at its prom.
"When we learned about Henryville, we decided maybe we weren't the ones who needed Lady Antebellum to come to our prom," said Brandon Dively, 16, a junior at D.C. Everest Senior High School in Weston, Wis., who worked on the student-made video uploaded to YouTube. "Their community was destroyed."
The building housing Henryville High and other classrooms was heavily damaged during a series of tornadoes that killed 13 people across southern Indiana on March 2.
Earlier that same week, storms killed seven people in Harrisburg, Ill., but students there also decided to back Henryville's prom bid.
The first couple minutes of Harrisburg's three-minute video focus on the storm damage in that community, but the final 30 seconds switch to its Indiana counterpart.
"While the students at Harrisburg High School would LOVE to have Lady Antebellum play at their high school prom, they would LOVE to have them play at Henryville, Indiana, even more," a slide in the video reads.
Students at Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg, Ind., meanwhile, looked past a longtime sports rivalry with Henryville and made video that's one of the most-watched YouTube segments in Lady Antebellum's contest, with more than 12,000 views as of Tuesday.
Mary Beth Coffman, Silver Creek's mass media teacher, recruited three of her students to be the video's stars and spent two days in Henryville filming interviews with local residents and getting film footage of the devastation.
She also visited a Louisville, Ky., hospital to interview Stephanie Decker, a Henryville woman who lost parts of both legs protecting her two children as it destroyed the family's home. Decker, whose husband is a math teacher at Silver Creek, urges the band to choose Henryville, saying "I think you could help a lot of people."
The video ends with a student standing in a field before dozens of classmates, saying, "Lady A, even if we don't win the contest, we're still going to own the night anyway" before they begin chanting "HHS! HHS!"
"They're like 10 minutes away and we're big rivals in sports, but we had to put that rivalry behind us," said Tim Dierking, a 17-year-old Silver Creek senior. "I just really hope that Henryville wins. They need to have a good time after what happened."
If Henryville were to win, students would be consulted about how the event should be held, said John Reed, assistant superintendent of West Clark Community Schools.
Henryville students are expected to return to classes in another community on April 2. Reed said the spring prom was to have been held at the high school but officials are looking for an alternate site — the size of which will be determined by whether Lady Antebellum gives Henryville the nod.
"We're all waiting, holding our breath. We think it would be a fantastic thing for the kids," he said. "But one thing we'll have to figure out is a facility that would be big enough to house everybody because I'm sure everybody will want to go to that thing."
Associated Press writer Carrie Schedler contributed to this report.
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