Honey, Madi, Jay, and Luke Ratcliff. Courtesy photo

“…Happy snow day Big Sandy to everyone tonight. And tomorrow, too, yea that’s right; don’t need you all out on the ice. Again, that’s no school on Wednesday. Stay home WILDCATS! Good Night! GO WILDCATS!!!” (courtesy Big Sandy ISD Facebook page)

Growing up in Ore City, Texas, Jay Ratcliff never dreamed he would someday be an internet sensation, but here he is…the Big Sandy ISD Singing Superintendent.

Everyone knew that school would be closed Tuesday because of snow, but when the decision to close on Wednesday was made, Jay’s wife, Honey suggested he sing something about the school cancellation but he’s not very receptive. Then she offered to write a poem for him to read (not unusual since they write poems while in the deer stand and share them back at camp!) As she began, the song, “Christmas in Dixie” by Alabama came to mind and history was made!

Jay says the video posted for Wednesday’s cancellation was the third take – outside in the very cold – and he had a little practice before hand (10-15 times), but the real challenge was the ‘going back to school’ song, performed live on CBS19. Producers suggested they write something for opening of school on Thursday, so they sat down and rearranged the lyrics to Alabama’s “Dixieland Delight.” He sang it, but had not played. Right before they left the house, producers called again and said they wanted to record the song and use in their six o’clock news cast. Thinking he could practice, record, retake, and edit, Jay said sure, great!

So off they go to Tyler. Then Wayne Weese, BSISD Director of Transportation, called and strongly suggested they delay the start of school Thursday. Jay agreed; however, it messed up the entire song and they had to do a quick rewrite. (Yes, they did delay school.) Upon arrival at the station, Jay said they asked about the ‘plan’ and were told they would film a Facebook Live but wouldn’t play the song then. Ok. They were ushered to a small room where Jay strummed through the song a couple of times, changing words and chords a bit. Then he was told they would go LIVE IN FIVE MINUTES! What? Yes, you’ll do your song live! What? Fast forward (five minute’s worth!) and he’s performing like a pro.

As of 1:30 Friday afternoon, the original video had been viewed more than 220,000 times, shared almost 4,200 times, and the post reached almost 660,000. They have received messages from people all over the United States and Canada. Honey said they posted the video at 4p.m. and at 5:12p.m., Jay’s phone rang with an unknown number that went to voicemail. Immediately, her phone rang with a similar number. She checked the voicemail and it was a woman with Channel 8 news in Dallas wanting to verify he was the correct Jay Ratcliff and that they want to run the video on their newscast. Honey is still curious as to how they got both cell numbers! (Heads up, folks, and think about how fast information can travel and how much information is “out there.”)

Jay said he and Honey just wanted to do something fun for the kids, staff, and community and it’s just caught fire. They love the Big Sandy community and are so happy that they could shine a positive light on Big Sandy ISD. The feedback from everyone has been great. It was an honor to interview Jay and Honey Ratcliff. They are ‘the real deal’ and we are so blessed to have them.