Posted on January 22, 2024
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Categories: News from SDP

A new PBS KIDS series, Lyla in the Loop, debuts next month, highlighting problem-solving and critical thinking skills for kids ages 4-8. And if you listen carefully to the show’s theme song, you will specifically hear the celebration of Philadelphia students.

Fanny Jackson Coppin School’s third grade students recorded the vocals for the theme song of Lyla in the Loop, a new series created by Philadelphia-based Mighty Picnic founder and Emmy-winning producer Dave Peth. This animated series follows the adventures of a 7-year-old girl named Lyla Loops (voiced by Liyou Abere), who lives in a big city, inspired by Philadelphia, with her best friend, family, and “fantastical” sidekick Stu (Izzy Woodbury).

“Everyone knows the teacher, the cop, the fire fighter, the doctor. But who knows the recording engineer?,” said Danielle Harrigan, a former second grade teacher at Fanny Coppin who now serves as a consulting teacher coach in the District’s Office of Professional Learning. “This experience opened up their eyes to different jobs and career paths that they didn’t know existed. Our kids know cartoons, but now they know what it takes to get that 30-second clip. It’s a lot of work.”

Twenty-one then-second graders at Fanny Coppin recorded the vocals in November of 2022 at Milkboy the Studio in Philadelphia. Before the recording, Harrigan worked with her class to practice the lyrics.

“They were learning through doing and that’s what school should always be like,” Harrigan said. “The reason I grew up being a teacher is because I grew up with amazing teachers that fostered my love of learning, so I value creating relationships with my kids that open up their eyes to new experiences and the opportunities that are available to them.”

Grammy-nominated musician Divinity Roxx, who composed and performed the music, led the students through rehearsal and then coached them through the recording. Students were also invited to watch the recording engineer work in the booth and speak with series head writer and EP Fracaswell Hyman via Zoom. Fanny Coppin Students from Chris Argerakis’ music class also participated. The students recorded the song in two different groups, without music, and learned how to get the cadence right.

“I was super excited to sing because I’ve never sung on a TV show before. It was really cool to see how our voices changed when it all came together,” said Zion Ekpaji, a Fanny Coppin third grader. “I hope it inspires people watching to sing or be on a show.”

Peth reached out to the District as a way to get students involved in the series. Based on his connections already with Coppin and the existing music program at Coppin, run by Argerakis, the school seemed like an easy fit.

“We are so grateful to Dave Peth and PBS for including and working with our students on this project,” said Frank Machos, Executive Director for the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of the Arts & Creative Learning. “This is an ideal collaboration where through their peek behind the scenes and participation in the creative process, students learned about cool job opportunities in the creative industries and also now have an incredible work of art that they can share with friends and family for years to come! We appreciate this opportunity and are looking forward to the show’s debut to see the hard work from our students in action.”

Peth’s daughter Anna attends Fanny Coppin was also one of the then-second grader vocalists.

“I am very excited for everyone to know that it’s our class singing the theme song. Music is really fun and the song is awesome,” said Anna. “My favorite part was singing the lyrics and watching two of the shows. Our school was in the credits and that was really neat.”

Fanny Copppin’s music program started in 2008. Led by Argerakis, the program serves all K-8 students and offers additional musical opportunities for students to participate in concert band, strings, and our two rock bands. The program has a partnership with both the Metropolitan Opera and Dancing Classrooms Philadelphia.

Its school rock band, HOME, has participated in many noteworthy events and concerts around the tri-state area. HOME has also performed with international artists including Rob Hyman (The Hooters,), Get the Led Out (“The American Led Zeppelin), Rich Eckhardt and the Toby Keith band, David Uosikkinen (The Hooters), and Eric Bazilian (The Hooters/Cyndi Lauper/Joan Osbourne/Ricky Martin), Garth Hudson (The Band) and OF MONSTERS AND MEN.

“I was really, really excited,” said Julian Tellez, Fanny Coppin student. “I really like singing and that was the first time I have ever been to a studio to record something. I have also never been to a place with a thousand buttons like the studio. I hope people really like the show!”

PBS KIDS’ Lyla in the Loop is a funny and engaging new animated series for kids ages 4-8 which will debut in both English and Spanish. In every adventure, Lyla and Stu introduce and explore foundational computational thinking concepts, leading to some comedic disasters and creative solutions, all while helping others in their community. The series will support a wide range of learners, modeling flexible approaches to finding and designing solutions, and creative self-expression.

Lyla in the Loop will debut February 5, 2024.