Rock star to the rescue: Arkells ask professor to reschedule exam so student can attend Kitchener show

A conflict between a rescheduled concert and a final exam had a Brock University student reaching out for some high profile help.

Savannah Tarantella began listening to Arkells during the pandemic, tuning in to lead singer Max Kerman’s frequent livestreams on social media. As restrictions began to lift last summer, she attended one of the band’s concerts at Budweiser Stage in Toronto.

“The whole atmosphere, it was insane,” Tarantella says. “Like everything that the band brings to the stage, and Max’s energy, he’s great at what he does.”

Eager to see them perform again, Tarantella bought tickets for the Kitchener stop of the “Blink Once” tour. Originally scheduled in February, the pandemic forced a postponement to April 22.

Savannah Tarantella snapped this picture of Max Kerman during an Arkells show last summer. (Submitted/Savannah Tarantella)

Tarantella knew the new date was around the time of final exams, but said she wouldn’t stress until there was a reason to stress.

When she got her final exam schedule, she discovered she did indeed have a reason to stress. Her Mineralogy II exam de ella was scheduled for April 22 from 7 to 10 pm, the same time as the concert in Kitchener.

Tarantella told her teaching assistant about the conflict.

“This is a problem, I have this event going on, and I’ve been waiting for this for so long, and I really don’t want to miss it,” Tarantella explains. The teaching assistant suggested she immediately contact the course’s professor and ask for an accommodation.

As Tarantella began writing that request, a friend had another idea, suggesting she reach out to the band directly to see if there was anything they could do to help.

Savannah Tarantella speaks to CTV News in a Zoom interview.

Tarantella, who is from Hamilton, the same city where the band was formed, sent a message through social media. Not long after, she got a message back from Kerman himself, who ended up writing a note to pass on to her professor.

It read in part, “I understand that you – as the professor – can’t make this exception every time. But we’re hoping you allow Sav to write her exam on another day, so she can join us at the show.

Kerman tells CTV News he was trying to appeal to the professor’s humanity.

“I was trying to suggest that exams will come and go, and you probably will forget about them, but the memories of a concert will last a lifetime,” he says.


Brock University associate professor of earth sciences Mariek Schmidt says she was surprised by the inclusion of a note from a member of the group. In her response to Tarantella she wrote that “having the lead singer write a message is a nice touch.”

“I get requests for accommodation for various things all the time,” Schmidt told CTV News. “I don’t think I’ve ever made an accommodation for a rock concert before, but certainly for weddings or things like that.”


Schmidt said given the early request, the small class size, and the fact the concert had been rescheduled due to the pandemic, she was able to accommodate Tarantella’s request, and would have done so even without Kerman’s note.

“There’s also this recognition that we all need to let loose these days,” Schmidt said. “With everything with COVID, everybody not being able to get together, people need to have an opportunity to let loose.”

Tarantella will write her exam at another time and is counting down the days until she’ll see Arkells live.

“I am so excited,” she said. “I was already excited before, then found out about my exam, a little more stressed, but now, the excitement [is] through the roof.”

Schmidt, who is a part of the Mars 2020 mission and currently studying volcanic rocks found by the Perseverance Rover, says she understands the importance of these kinds of events.

“I remember being in my early twenties and concerts were a big deal – going to spend time with friends, it’s a communal kind of experience. So I definitely can appreciate how important it is.”

Arkells will play The Aud in Kitchener on April 22. (Krista Simpson/CTV News)

Kerman says the story of Tarantella’s accommodation will likely become a part of the Kitchener show.

“We should probably have a moment to recognize Savannah and the professor,” he says.

And it is possible both could be in the crowd that night, with Kerman extending an invitation to Schmidt during his interview with CTV News.

“We’d love if you were our guest at the show in Kitchener.”

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