Ashland High School students rally around ‘Sparrow’ classmate in new YouTube video

Luke Hogan Laurenson dances with fellow Ashland High School students in the courtyard at Ashland High School in a screen capture from a new YouTube video, "Shake It Off for Luke Ashland High School."
December 22, 2022

‘Shake It Off’ dance video part of drive to raise funds for wheelchair accessible van for Luke Hogan Laurenson

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

In true Taylor Swift fashion, Luke Hogan Laurenson makes the moves up as he goes, just like his favorite singer-songwriter.

Hogan Laurenson joined in with classmates, administrators and staff at Ashland School District, dancing their hearts out in a music video filmed over the course of three weeks, starting on Nov. 10, at the Ashland High School football stadium and elsewhere on the campus. The Ashland teen has cerebral palsy and dysarthria, a speech disability, which has impacted his motor skills his whole life. He was adopted by Ashland High School as a Sparrow through Sparrow Clubs USA in November and is leading students in a fundraising effort to raise $55,000 for a new wheelchair-accessible van to make traveling easier for himself and his mother, Jane Hogan.

Luke Hogan Laurenson dances with fellow students at Ashland High School in a screen capture from a new YouTube video, “Shake It Off for Luke Ashland High School.”

“As of right now, if they don’t have a caretaker, Jane and Luke are kind of housebound because she’s so small, that getting him in and out of her car is almost impossible,” said Aimee Cork, AHS leadership teacher. “So, even just right now, the sooner the better for them to be able to live lives as normally as possible.”

Cue the music video, with the hope it will spread awareness far and wide of the fundraising need — and bust some moves in the process.

“Everybody had a really good time,” Cork said of the filming. “It has been really cool to watch our student body rally around Luke.”

The music for the video, from the album “1989” (which debuted in 2014), is more than a favorite of the Ashland High senior, it’s also an inspiration.

“The significance of ‘Shake-it-off’ … and Taylor Swift in particular, inspired Luke to want to work to learn how to dance and walk … because he just loves her so much,” Cork said. “That song kind of embodies his whole journey. The idea of the video is that because there’s so many different people in it and so many different groups involved, that anybody who sees it, especially kids who see themselves in it, will be like, ‘Oh I’m gonna share this.’”

Luke and his mom, Jane, met Swift after a concert when he was 12. Jane happily let Ashland.news know that since the first story ran about him in November, they’ve managed to get tickets to her upcoming Eras tour in 2023.

The hope of the music video is to spread the word about Luke and the fundraising effort and have fun in the process.

“Hopefully the more people who see it, the more who get to see that clip at the end with ways that they can help support Luke and Jane in getting their van,” Cork said.

Cork wasn’t sure how many students were involved in the making of the video, but estimated at least half the student body, with about 20 different filming sessions with various groups of people, including one film shoot on the football field, “which got a huge turnout,” Cork said.

Cork praised sophomore leadership student Owen Taylor for filming the video and spending much of his spare time on editing the video.

“He just volunteered to do it,” Cork said. “He definitely has an interest in film, so when we started talking about wanting to make this video, he was the first person I thought of. … He’s a really awesome kid.”

Luke Hogan Laurenson dances with Ashland School District Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove and others in the courtyard at Ashland High School in a screen capture from a new YouTube video, “Shake It Off for Luke Ashland High School.”

Everyone from football players to theater performers took part in the video. AHS teachers and even Superintendent Samuel Bogdanove “busted some moves.”

Cork, who has been a teacher at AHS for several years, is in her first year as leadership teacher. She’s said she’s gotten to know Luke’s caring personality through the class. 

“Everybody on campus knows who Luke is, and sings along with his music and dances with him and all of that,” Cork said. “He’s just the most optimistic kid. All of us can really learn a lot from his attitude. He’s just always happy. He always comes into class with a smile and the first question he asks me everyday is he wants to know how I’m doing, which is such a little thing, but for high schoolers, that just is not always how they operate. They don’t always think of how other people are doing first.”

Cork said if Luke asks how she is doing, it is a genuine question and, if it’s a bad day, he wants to offer a hug.

“He just has this compassion and energy that makes people around him feel good,” Cork said.

Cork is also co-owner of Rogue Valley Roasting Company in Ashland.

Sales of “Luke’s Blend” at Rogue Valley Roasting Co. will go toward purchase of a wheelchair-accessible van for Luke.

She and her husband are selling $15 bags of “Luke’s blend,” an organic, medium roast that individuals can purchase at the coffee shop, AHS or around town through the entire school year.

“All of that money goes to Luke,” Cork said.

Cork said the idea to make a special blend for a good cause has been on her mind for sometime, but in talking with Luke’s mom, Jane, she realized it was a perfect time for the idea.

“This is actually the time that I can launch this idea that’s been brewing in the back of my head for the last couple of years,” Cork said. “We’ll continue to do sales at the coffee shop and have different clubs around campus sell in front of Market of Choice or Shop’n Kart. We’ll probably try to do that once a month, at least once a month, throughout the month of December.”

More fundraisers will launch in the spring, including a 5K run and Mr. Grizz pageant, with proceeds going to Luke’s fundraiser.

Students at AHS were tasked in November with serving 300 hours of community service as a school to “unlock” a $3,000 contribution towards his goal made from business sponsors.

Unofficially, Cork estimates the school is very close to meeting this goal, but said Sparrow Clubs USA will make any announcement official in 2023.

“Way ahead of schedule,” Cork added.

Luke Hogan Laurenson tries his hand at weight lifting at Ashland High School in a screen capture from a new YouTube video, “Shake It Off for Luke Ashland High School.”

Part of the high level of participation by the student body can be attributed to Luke’s active presence on campus and the familiarity his classmates have with him.

“He rides around campus blaring his music in the back and everybody stops and dances or makes a quick comment about his music,” Cork said. “He’s like the school DJ. So it’s really easy for kids when they saw or heard what Lukes needs were to be like, ‘yeah, that’s totally something I can get on board with.’”

Hogan Laurenson has been a Sparrow — designated by Sparrow Clubs as “a child up to 17 years old with a life-threatening or life-affecting illness or condition” — twice before, once while a student at Ashland Middle School and again as a student at Bellview Elementary.

Checks to support the drive to raise funds for a wheelchair-accessible transport van can be made out to “Luke’s Angels,” a nonprofit, and can be dropped off at AHS when school returns in January. Donations can also be made through Luke’s GoFundMe page (click here). As of Thursday, Dec. 22, the GoFundMe drive had raised more than $2,300 of the $55,000 goal.

Contributions to the fundraising effort prior to Dec. 31 are tax-deductible for 2022 taxes.

Watch Luke’s video with fellow high school students online at https://youtu.be/gl0_IM3QH7g. As of Dec. 22, the video had more than 2,000 views. Shares help spread the word.

Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.


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