The lyrics of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s alma mater hang from the wall of every classroom, yet, for the 2019-2020 school year, the alma mater has ceased to play.
The alma mater is a song declaring the principles for which MSD stands. It mentions courage, honor and wisdom. Alma mater songs aim to unite student bodies.
“I think the alma mater is a really great way for the school to connect… It just creates a lot more school spirit all around,” senior Sydney Kerr said.
Once, the alma mater song played on the first Friday of every month. Students would remain standing after the pledge, and sometimes sing along in their best operatic tones. However, the alma mater has experienced a steady decline, starting in the 2018-2019 school year. That year, the instrumental track for the alma mater played, but the iconic lyrics were nowhere to be found.
Now, the alma mater has disappeared from the morning announcements entirely. According to administration, the problem is largely technical.
“[The way the alma mater is played] is a Bluetooth device that works through the announcement system, but I stopped using that and started using the telephone,” assistant principal Daniel Lechtman said.
Lechtman also noted that the only person to comment on the change was former principal Ty Thompson, who heard of the song’s absence from his son. Last year, Thompson had plans to re-record the alma mater with the assistance of orchestra director Stuart Rabin and MSD’s theatre production students. However, these plans fell through. Instead, a lyricless version recorded by MSD band students played for the 2018-2019 school year.
Some students viewed the alma mater as both a point of school spirit and an in-joke amongst friends, and eagerly awaited its playing. These students noticed the absence of the alma mater immediately.
“I did notice that they stopped playing the alma mater this year. My friends and I, we’d always text on every Friday when they play it. The first Friday came and they were supposed to. And we were like, hold up, what’s happening,” Kerr said.
Others, however, find the issue of the alma mater less pressing. Debate teacher Jacob Abraham posited that, though the alma mater is gone, MSD remains strong despite its absence.
“Did I notice? No. But, do I mind? No. I don’t think most of my students mind either. School spirit is about way more than a song played over the speakers once a month,” Abraham said.
If the technical difficulties are resolved, the alma mater may see its return to the morning announcements. It seems that only time, and the arrival of the first Friday of the month, will tell if the school’s song will play again.