As a child, John Lennon was notorious for “sagging off”—playing hooky—from school. One day this past spring, the musician indirectly gave a group of students from throughout the Washington, D.C., area the chance to do just that. Except these high schoolers got no farther than the parking lot of Maryland’s Montgomery Blair High School, where they spent the day recording songs and shooting a music video in a bright-blue bus featuring an image of the ex-Beatle’s face on its side and a full-fledged multimedia recording studio within.
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The students selected to take the daylong magical mystery tour were winners of an essay contest sponsored by the National Education Association’s Read Across America literacy program and Oneness, a nonprofit promoting racial unity through education and the arts. Once aboard the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a nonprofit recording studio that’s on the road 10 months a year, the teens were given a tour of its extensive musical gear, including a speaker blown out by a member of the Black Eyed Peas while recording a recent album onboard. And by the end of the day, the students had their own performance, “1ness,” burned onto DVD, if not vinyl. Imagine that.