Family turns vacation into musical history lesson

ARLINGTON — What did you do on your summer vacation?

The nine-member Klomparens family made a music video about Washington state history.

The video has been up on YouTube for less than two weeks and already has nearly 600 views. It’s all original material, based on a

The lyrics of the hard-driving rock chorus of the video’s song are, “Listen, and I will bring you up to date on the long, proud history of Washington state. The story doesn’t take too long to tell, but it’s a high school requirement, so listen well.”

The video and all the research behind it fulfills the state history requirement for high school graduation for the three oldest Klomparens kids, composer and singer Caleb, 17, lyricist and director Sophie, 15, and actor Calvin, 13. While Trinity, 11, can’t count her work on the video for graduation, she is proud of her job as the sound director.

“It was a great project,” she said.

All the Klomparenses, a wholesome bunch that includes Ransom, 10, Christian, 8, and Charity, 4, are educated at home, taught by their parents, Amy, 40, and Joe, 41.

In his day job, Joe Klomparens teaches Latin in the International School of Communications at Marysville Getchell High School. He and Amy also teach classes at the Damascus Road Church home-school cooperative in Marysville.

The music video isn’t the first such project by the family. The endearingly nerdy group loves musical theater and has produced a variety of plays, a parody of the “Wizard of Oz” and others based on Shakespeare and Greek mythology. They even have an online blog called History for Ninnies.

The state history music video includes all the major events in the Evergreen state’s past, narrated in song.

Before they set out on their journey, Caleb and Sophie had to write and record the song. It was a time-consuming effort that included a lot of reading. When Sophie’s rhyming lyrics were ready, Caleb set them to music, using an Apple computer program. They put it on a disc, planned out the storyboard and set out with their camera, an iPod Touch, their tents and, for the drive, a nine-disc recorded book, Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.”

It got to the point where, with teamwork, the family could set up a campsite in about 10 minutes, leaving plenty of time during the day for filming.

They rolled through Eastern Washington, filming at the Stevens County Historical Museum, Fort Spokane, Palouse Falls, Walla Walla, the Whitman Mission and Hanford.

“There was one time we drove by a giant fry pan in front of a restaurant,” Sophie said. “And Dad yelled out, ‘Do we have any need for a shot of a frying pan?’ Other times we would get to a museum or a visitors center and stay until they had to kick us out.”

Fort Vancouver, Mount St. Helens, Ilwaco, Satsop, the state capitol, the state history museum in Tacoma, Pioneer Square in Seattle, Whidbey Island and the Hibulb Cultural Center at Tulalip. Lots of stops and a blur of camera footage.

Calvin, the 13-year-old, is the narrator of the story.

In the video, he wears a costume similar to the one worn by Antonio Banderas’ Che Guevara in “Evita”: a puffy white shirt, dress pants, a vest and a neckerchief. The whole outfit was much too warm for the 100-degree temperatures of Eastern Washington.

“I wanted to take my shirt off or film everything in the shade,” Calvin said. “I just hung in there.”

Calvin lipsyncs to Caleb’s vocal on the recorded track.

“Most of the time, I just sang along out loud,” Calvin said. “We all have the song memorized.”

When they arrived home, Caleb sat down and numbered all 126 video takes. It took about 10 days to rerecord a couple of spots, edit all the material down, synch it all up and render a final version, he said.

“We added the credits later and Sophie and Mom made a ‘making of’ video,” Caleb said. “We’re pretty proud of it and, most of all, I get to graduate.”

Sophie said she knows full well that being home-schooled lends itself to unusual opportunities, such as the making of the music video.

“I feel bad for all the public school kids who have to just plod through a chapter book,” she said.

Was it worth the vacation time?

“I don’t think I would want to live on the east side,” Sophie said. “But Washington is a great state.”

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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