Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Academic Magnet High School - North Charleston, South Carolina.


Juniors and Teachers Jam Out

An inside scoop on the musical event of the year
Hamp rocks his heart out

Last week, a group of musically inclined teachers and junior students banded together (literally) to create the performance of the century. Junior class President, Donovan “Hamp” Hamilton, and his band collected their favorite teachers who would be willing to perform with them and they composed three magnificent numbers. 

Bring the Hype

The students featured in this event are not just a one performance wonder. In fact, these five Academic Magnet students, Hamp Hamilton, Keveon Ford, Samuel Persinger, Randy Villariz, and Isa Pineda, have a band together called “Bring the Hype”. During their sophomore year, these talents had a dream of performing for the school talent show. At the time, they had 4 members as Randy and Isa were yet to join the crew. Even so, they prepared to perform an impressive cover of “Walk this Way” by Aerosmith. Everything was ready and they were set to go on stage. But, they realized there was something missing: a name. When Vishwa, who ran the talent show, asked their name, they stood stunned with no idea what to call their company of musicians. However, Donovan came to the rescue. He states, “I thought about what we were about to do, which was bring the hype. So I just said our name was Bring the Hype. Just like that, they introduced us and we walked on stage and did our thing.” 

After this performance, they took a 2-month break from rocking out. However, when the final five came together, the band took its current form. Randy has mastered the piano, while Sam is a natural percussion player. Keveon stuns on the guitar, while leading man Hamp is a double threat, shredding the bass guitar and riveting the audience with his vocals. Keveon is also a leading vocalist. Isa is also double trouble, hitting vocals and the violin. Although she joined later, Donovan comments that “it was great because she knows a lot about music and added a female vocal to the group.”

Their most common covers are “Johnny B Goode” by Chuck Berry and, their original feat, “Walk this Way” by Aerosmith. When asked his favorite song to perform, Hamp raves over “Just like Heaven” by The Cure and “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. 

This band is not just an in school production. In fact, Bring the Hype has had multiple public gigs. Their earliest out-of-school performance was at Station 17 restaurant in Ravenel and they recently showcased their talents at the Coastal Carolina Fair in August. They look forward to performing at the NHS Induction Ceremony in December as well as securing a gig at the Charleston Pourhouse. 


Ms. Akery gets in the zone.

During his sophomore year, Hamp imagined the idea for the Junior/Teacher Jam with the help of none other than Mr. Cosgrove. After Cosgrove saw Bring the Hype’s talent show performance, he mentioned the idea of getting teachers in on the mix or hosting an event where teachers and student bands compete. With his upcoming presidency looming in the back of his mind, Hamp was intrigued by the idea. The idea started to come to life over the summer. Hamp explains, “With some of the musically inclined teachers coming out to our second concert, I really started thinking about how I could take this idea and make it reality.” So, from there, he began walking around during his study hall, inquiring different teachers about their interest in the event. Once he formed his bands, the song selection process began. “I tried to choose songs with relatively easy parts and that Bring the Hype already knew and that included many different styles. So, we chose ‘Just like Heaven’ by The Cure because it was simple and allowed for a lot of different skill sets. With ‘Valerie’ by Amy Winehouse, I wanted to showcase the horn players of the school and Mrs. Lankford’s amazing voice. ‘Corazón Espinado’ by Santana and Maná was chosen to account for Senora Cook’s skills as a vocalist and to incorporate a different culture and style into our performance.” 

“‘Just like Heaven’ has a very pop feeling to it; it’s very musically diverse. I loved hearing all of the different aspects come together, with the piano, the synth, the bass, the guitar, and then all of that being captured with the vocals being so loud and out there. It’s just one of my favorite songs. Especially when I sang it;,it was just so fun. And of course, What a Wonderful World – I have mastered the voice almost perfectly and I just love singing like Louis.”

— Hamp

Around the middle of September, the work began. Gathering in Mr. Grimshaw’s room, teachers and juniors practiced twice a week during lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays, until the day of the performance. According to Hamp, “the planning was time consuming and took a lot of thought as teachers have their own schedules and it took into my schedule as well. Everything was pretty stressful, but this performance was great as it provided an outlet for me as well as an event for everyone else to enjoy.” However, it wasn’t all work and no play as Hamp raves of how quickly everything came together, the sheer skills of the teachers, and expresses, “after practice, we would end off with a little team chant, exclaiming the name of the song on 3. It was amazing.” 

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure

Mr. Flo feels the beat

The opening act was an intriguing cover of “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure. From Hamp’s astounding vocals to Sam Persinger’s

rocking skills on the drums, this performance shocked the crowd. The guitarists truly made the performance as three talents took the stage with Keveon on the background guitar, Mrs. Akery as the lead guitarist, and Mr Flo on bass guitar. Ms. Akery is no stranger to the stage as she and her husband have a band of their own. Ms. Yackey really showcased her skills on the synth piano keys, backing up Randy Villariz who was the lead pianist. Hamp says that from the first practice, “Just Like Heaven” came together perfectly. Mr Flo picked up the bass line immediately, and all of their unique talents blended in harmony. While at first a little self-conscious of her skills, Ms. Yackey broke out of her shell by slowly turning up the volume on the piano as she gained confidence. The choice of “Just Like Heaven” came from the upbeat sound of the song, something that Hamp really wanted them to come out of the gate with to show the audience that this was not a formal event, and really just something to have fun with. The key change demonstrates the intricacies of the player’s skills while still returning at the end to the loud and chill vibe that is characteristic of the song. 

Senora Cook gets in her groove

“Corazón Espinado” by Santana and Maná

The second act wowed the audience as Hamp and Senora Cook channeled their inner Santana and Maná with their cover of “Corazón Espinado.” Hamp says that when he first learned the song, he had no idea what the lyrics actually said. Instead, he focused on the patterns and the rhythms of the words. Finally, he brought the piece to Senora Cook and they broke it down section by section. He says that in English, most people just learn the lyrics and do not really seek to understand the meaning. In a second language, however, he says that understanding the purpose behind the song is much more important in committing it to memory. His greatest difficulty was in the timing and pronunciation of the words, as some of the words on the lyric sheet bled together in the actual song. This was not the first Spanish song that Hamp has mastered. Previously, he sang “La Bamba” at a concert and again at the Magnet open house for the seniors.

I’m lowkey hitting these notes for real.

— Hamp





Originally, Hamp was supposed to only be doing ad libs in the background of Senora Cook’s performance. For those not musically inclined like myself, that means that she would sing the majority of the song and he might add something behind her. In the end, they decided to sing it fully together. Senora Cook took the lead part of the performance, and her microphone was louder than his. This performance was also jam packed with teacher talents with Ms. Langley on rhythm guitar, Ms. Phillips on the tambourine, Mr. Garris on the maracas, and Mr. DeVenio on the cowbell. Perhaps the most memorable part of this performance was Keveon on the guitar, from Battle of the Bands to talent shows, his guitar solos never cease to impress. Keveon says that he first heard this song while driving with Hamp while they were searching for a Spanish song for this performance, and what really stood out to him was the guitar solo. At first, he wasn’t sure if he could master it, but he decided to accept the challenge. For a month leading up to the show, he spent hours practicing on his own time. Because of all of the work he put into it, he says actually performing it was “one of the best things ever.” This was actually the second time performing this song live for Bring the Hype, as they had one previous performance two days prior at the International Dinner at Academic Magnet. That served as a test ru; howeve,r it was modified to account for the absence of the teachers who would be present at the Junior Teacher Jam. Isa sang Senora Cook’s part, and Hamp rested his vocals for the big day. Bring the Hype has said they will be adding this song to their future rotation at gigs, with Isa solely on vocals. This performance also featured the man of the music department, Mr. Grimshaw. He played the congas and Hamp expressed his intense appreciation for Mr. Grimshaw and all he does for his students. 

“Valerie” by Amy Winehouse

A musical classic was reinvented by Ms. Lankford when she took on “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse. She said that this has been such a fun experience for her, and she loved telling her husband she has practice “with the band.” She was backed up by Keveon on the saxophone, Mr. Grimshaw on the trumpet, and Hamp on the bass. Ms. Phillips dazzled the crowd with her inspiring tambourine performance, recreating the melody we all know and love. True friendship was displayed when Ms. Orr came to Ms. Lankford’s rescue after she was victimized by a rogue wind that blew the lyrics off the stand. Ms. Orr remained front and center, holding the page for Ms. Lankford for the remainder of the song. Originally, the song was supposed to contain a saxophone solo by Mr. Phillips, something Hamp and the rest of the band were really excited about. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when at the beginning of the week Mr. Phillips had an emergency which inhibited him from performing. The solo had to be thrown out, and instead the song ended with Ms. Lankford’s vocals. While the solo is disappointing for the audience to miss out on, Ms. Lankford picked up the slack, especially on such short notice. Sam, an institution of Bring the Hype, held down the beat with the drums.

I already knew it was gonna be a banger

— Hamp


Hamp makes clear that his reason for holding this event ties into his platform for presidency. He understands that Magnet can be incredibly stressful and sometimes getting caught up in this can lead to a decrease in the school traditions and spirit that it is also known for. As president, he is hoping to bring some of that fun and stress relief back into Magnet. In order to do that, he is attempting to organize events that facilitate widespread participation. Although he notes that it is not possible to make everyone happy, he says he tries as hard as he can. This event and other events under his leadership are all in line with that goal of student happiness. He says that even if these events are subject to criticism, the incoming freshmen will be able to experience a more unified Magnet, without the separation and restrictions he experienced his freshman year due to Covid. He believes that being the forerunner of events like this will inspire members of future student government to follow in his footsteps. Pioneering it is the hardest part, and for future grades who are on student council and want to host a future event, he now has a blueprint to make their experience easier. If the class of 2026 is willing and open to create a similar band and event, Hamp says he is ready and excited to help them along every step of the way.

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