A video named Calling Teachers By Their First Names, filmed and edited by four recently graduated Great Neck South seniors, surpassed 1.3 million views on YouTube and has been seen thousands of times on the popular content rating and discussion website, Reddit. Created by South Class of 2018 students Abby Efrem, Clara Goldberger, Cindy Wang and Evelyn Yu, the three-minute video features numerous recordings of South teachers caught off guard by the students referring to them by their first names.
“It was for an AP Physics C class end-of-the-year project [in which] we had to make a ‘viral video,’” Wang said. “I expected this video to just spread around the students and teachers for a quick laugh.”
Wang’s project idea of calling teachers by their first names met with unanimous approval. The group made a list of teachers that they wanted to film and came up with one-line introductions in order to get the teachers—many who the students already had—to react in a humorous way. For a few teachers that none of the group members have had, the students “recruited” some of their fellow classmates to call them by their first name.
“[Wang] was our main motivator, since, for as a group of rather respectful students, we were actually quite scared to address our teachers—even those we were friendly with—by their first names,” Efrem reflected. “Thankfully she helped us get over our fear, for after witnessing our teachers’ initial shock we explained our true intentions, and they were excited to see the final product.”
According to the students, editing the video was rather effortless; Wang had some editing experience from vlogging and previous projects on iMovie, an app that allows users to transition between clips and add background music and visual effects. After finishing the video, the students uploaded it to YouTube and to South’s student body Facebook page, anticipating seeing positive comments. Many of the teachers recorded even showed the video in their classes.
Some weeks later when the video reached 1,000 views, a few people found the video and uploaded it to a popular thread of Reddit viewed daily by hundreds of thousands of users. Over the course of a few weeks, the video quickly broke 10,000 views. The students, elated with the video’s popularity, kept in close communication throughout the summer as the YouTube video got so many views that it surpassed similar videos in popularity. The video became so popular that Efrem’s YouTube channel gained 1,700 subscribers.
“We never anticipated the video to surpass one-million views, let alone 1.3 million,” Efrem said. “I have since disabled comments on the video—due to the unfortunate inappropriate nature of many of them—but prior to that, we enjoyed seeing the positive feedback of individuals who didn’t attend our school or know the teachers in the video.”
Given that this was one of the last major projects that the four students completed in high school, the South High grads quickly realized how grateful they were to have such “amicable, enthusiastic and fun teachers,” who devoted their time to creating long-
lasting student relationships. Originally fearful that, as many comments pointed out, such actions could have regrettable punishments associated with them, the students understood that their teachers valued the creativity of the students instead of the potential disobedience of referring to teachers by their first name.
“Some of the teachers who I had as sports coaches were not even fazed by us calling them by their first name,” said Wang. “It definitely ended high school on a high note.”
View the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzktOe-DKLg.