LEWISTON — Superintendent Bill Webster had always wanted to cancel school with a song.

On Tuesday, he saw his opportunity and seized it.

In a one-minute video posted on YouTube, Webster croons, “You want to know, you want to know, you want to know if there’ll be school today.” He plays the piano. He plays the guitar. He plays the ukulele. He plays the accordion.

And he draws out the suspense until the very end, when he sings: “Here is my answer now, there is no school today. Curse me or praise me, there’s no school! To — day!”

Then Webster, the 68-year-old former business executive, shakes a tambourine.

“I had fun putting that together,” Webster said Tuesday.

It showed. By early afternoon, the snow-day video had been viewed more than 3,000 times on YouTube, shared over 100 times on Facebook and liked 115 times on Twitter. Webster said all three major Maine news stations have asked for copies of the video.

Dozens of people commented online, surprised and delighted by Webster’s performance.

“Well played!!” wrote one person on Facebook.

A number of the school system’s 5,600 students reached out to tell him they also heartily approved. 

“(They say) I’m their man,” Webster said. “Now, that may have more to do with the decision than the actual song.” 

Webster worked as CEO of Haven’s Candies and as an executive at the Hannaford supermarket chain before becoming a teacher. He headed Ellsworth-area schools, then joined Lewiston as superintendent in 2010. He’s scheduled to retire at the end of this school year.

The musical snow-day video was something he’d been wanting to do for years, but with retirement just months away, he realized, “If I’m going to do it, it’s got to be this winter.”

He wrote the song over a couple of weeks in November. Using a borrowed video camera, he taped it in December at the Georgetown home he plans to retire to with his wife.

The video, which makes use of five musical instruments, required a few takes to get right.

“It’s been sitting there on YouTube for a month, just waiting for the right time to share the link,” Webster said. “Today proved to be the day.”

Though, he acknowledged, his snow-day call might have been wrong. “At this point, it looks like we could have just had a two-hour delay. So we’re hoping for freezing rain this afternoon to verify that this was the right decision for today,” he joked.

While a number of people online expressed surprise at Webster’s musical talent, he’s been playing piano and guitar since childhood. He picked up the accordion during a trip out West in 2005 and got the ukulele a couple of years ago during a sailing trip. For a time, he was a member of the Androscoggin Chorale.

One of his goals in retirement: Write a musical.

“I already have an essence of what I want to do. I need to do some research,” he said. “So I may be coming back to Lewiston (after retirement) because what I’m thinking of would probably be appropriate for high school and middle school.”

This may be his only lyrical snow-day announcement, but it may not be his last music video. 

“I’ve been thinking maybe for my last (social media) post, before I ride off into the sunset, maybe I’ll do a song,” he said.

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(YouTube video screen shot)

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