Alma WHAT? Why Less Students are Learning the Alma Mater

ALMA WHAT? WHY LESS STUDENTS ARE LEARNING THE ALMA MATER -- The lyrics to the Central High School Alma Mater hang next to the American flag in the gym.

Sarah Katheron Latham

ALMA WHAT? WHY LESS STUDENTS ARE LEARNING THE ALMA MATER -- The lyrics to the Central High School Alma Mater hang next to the American flag in the gym.

Sarah Katheron Latham, Staff Writer

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“What a wonderful school is ours to love, with its ups, and its downs, and its joys!”

These lyrics of the Central High School Alma Mater were written in the 1926-1927 school year by Central’s first Assistant principal, Arthur Rankin.  After his time at Central, Rankin went on to be principal of Bradley County High School and, eventually, Superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. As the years have gone by, less students are learning the Alma Mater.

Almost all the students will shout, “Central High!” at the end a pep rally, when the Alma Mater is always performed by the band and sung by those who know the song, but how much do they actually know?

Despite the fact the lyrics to the beloved song are posted in the gym, still very few know the entire song.

A recent graduate of Central, from the Class of 2014, and current world history teacher at Central High School, Joseph Parrott explained that when he was a student, the Alma Mater was taught to him and his fellow classmates. Recently, this has not been the case.

“[Students] are forgetting [the Alma Mater]; I don’t think it is emphasized as much,” expressed Parrott.

Recently, Central’s Choir teacher, Katheron Latham, has begun teaching it to her choirs and will begin singing it on every Friday.

“It has become apparent to me at various school functions that students don’t know the Alma Mater.  It is my goal for my students to have the Alma Mater well learned by the end of the year, and then choir students can help other students to learn it as time goes on,” expressed Latham

Some in the school think that it is important to know the Alma Mater.  However, students who wish to learn it have to go out of their way to learn the Alma Mater because there is not easy access to it.  So, students will have to determine how important it is to them and if they are willing to make that effort.

“I don’t think it is too much to ask– for someone to learn a song. They’re not required to, so they would have to learn it on their own,” pointed out Duncan Kelley, a leadership teacher who has been at Central for 22 years.

Students have different opinions about the importance of school spirit and how it correlates with the decline of students learning the Alma Mater.  School spirit is considered pride in one’s school and being part of a community that is all a part of that school. Learning a song that celebrates all of that is something that has been done over the years t0 spread this school spirit. However, not all students feel that school spirit is an important part of the high school journey.

“As far as school spirit is concerned, I think getting a good education is more important than our school song,” expressed Joseph Wooten, a junior at Central.

The Alma Mater will become forgotten without efforts being made to learn it by the students and an effort to teach it by the teachers. Otherwise, the song that was so cherished will become a thing of the past that only the alumni of Central High School will know.

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