MANNINGTON, W.Va. — As many students stood beside their teachers in support during the statewide work stoppage, one Marion County high school students went one step further — to writing an anthem for state employees.

Abby Latocha, a junior at North Marion High School, has reached thousands throughout the country with “55 Can Survive,” a song she penned to the tune of Hank Williams, Jr.’s “Country Boy Can Survive.”

“Currently there’s like 242,000 views. I really wasn’t expecting that,” she said. “I think it just has a lot to do with the subject, and people are really into this subject right now.”

Latocha’s mother, Joni, is a teachers aide at Jayenne Elementary School, but the support that Latocha wanted to share went far deeper than her mother’s school and coworkers. She said her song was for teachers, cooks, bus drivers, road workers, firefighters, police officers and all of the state’s employees.

“They keep our state running so obviously I support them and everything they do,” she said. “They deserve respect for the hard work that they do, so I wanted to just show my support and throw that out there so they know there’s people that care about them.”

During her nine days off of school, Latocha spent many hours on the picket lines, whether with her friends at North Marion High School or accompanying her mother at Jayenne Elementary, and said it’s been a new and interesting experience.

“It’s been fun. It’s not fun circumstance that we’re doing it under, but it’s been nice to connect with other people, just be together and show that we’re supporting one another,” she said. “We’re just singing songs, cheering, getting people riled up and people blowing their horns. It’s fun.”

But Latocha is more than happy to put that fun aside and go back to the classroom.

“Everybody wants to get back to school,” she said. “The teachers want to get back to school. We all want to get back to normal life.”

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