Feel Good Friday: Local musicians surprise Grandville classroom

Kent County

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Any 90’s alternative rock aficionado will tell you The Verve Pipe’s “The Freshman” was a big hit. But all these years later, their music is still connecting with listeners.

This week, a few members of the band, including lead singer Brian Vander Ark, stopped by a classroom at Grandville High School for a surprise performance.

It started a few weeks ago, when the band played a mini pop-up show at a local country club with the message: “Music can be played anywhere!” Grandville teacher and Verve Pipe fan Melissa Henkel commented on their video, saying the band is welcome to perform for her class.

Henkel told News 8 she was somewhat shocked when he took her up on the offer.

“They had like a 20-second clip. And I just made a reply to it and said, ‘Hey. You’re welcome to crash my classroom anytime you like,’” Henkel said. “He responded fairly quickly, like within a day or so, and said ‘Yeah, I’m totally interested.’”

After a couple of weeks of working out the details and getting permission from school officials, three members of The Verve Pipe surprised Henkel’s class.

The longtime teacher works with students on the autism spectrum. She says her students loved the performance, saying music is a unique way for all of her students to connect.

“They are a variety of cognitive levels. Some of them are non-verbal,” Henkel told News 8. “When they walked in, (the students) were just wondering what was going on. A few of them went up and tried to touch the guitars and we said, ‘No, no, just wait.’ And they began right in and started playing and played a couple of songs and my students were just … moving in their seats, and you could hear vocalizations, and those were just really expressions of joy. They loved it.”

Henkel admitted it wasn’t quite the crowd the band is used to, but it was greatly appreciated.

“I shared with him who they were or who they are, and their levels and he was all for it,” Henkel said. “Touching some of the students, some of them don’t communicate like the rest of us, verbally, but they communicate in other ways. … Music reaches all of them and it was just really nice.”

Vander Ark and The Verve Pipe are still plenty busy. Their latest album, called “Threads” was released Friday, and they have three upcoming shows at The Listening Room later this month.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Stories On WOODTV.com

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links