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Mottos And Songs Across The School District



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Mottos And Songs Across The School District

By Eliza Hallabeck

In the Newtown Public School district it is easy to come across the term, “Inspiring Each Student to Excel.” That is the Newtown Public School’s mission statement, and it can be found displayed on posters throughout Newtown’s schools. It is also prominently displayed on the district’s website, centered in the website’s banner.

Some of Newtown’s schools also have their own mottos, songs, and statements.

“They are all different, but they each reflect the character of that school,” said Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson.

Dr Robinson said in some cases the mottos and songs have helped spread a sense of personality and culture at the schools where they were created.

When the school district unveiled its new website this summer, some of the elementary schools, like Middle Gate Elementary School and Sandy Hook Elementary School, also added audio players to the school websites for residents to hear the school’s personalized songs.

Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Gejda said hearing the school songs and mottos being performed and stated by Newtown’s students is one of the best experiences in the school district. Dr Gejda also said she can note students trying to model the behaviors expressed in the mottos and songs.

While Reed Intermediate School does not have a motto or song, school Principal Sharon Epple said her school has more of a slogan.

“Reed Rocks” has been printed on t-shirts for Reed staff by Newtown High School’s graphic department, and it has become a chant for students during assemblies, said the principal.

Both Middle Gate Principal Chris Geissler and Sandy Hook Elementary School Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung spoke recently with The Bee about their schools’ songs. 

“It’s amazing,” said Mr Geissler, noting his school’s song seems to have lore surrounding it.

Middle Gate Elementary School music teacher Tina Jones said she was inspired to write the school song, “The Place For You and Me,” in the summer of 2008.

“I was on our school’s ‘Positive Behavior Team,’ and I remember we were discussing different ways to instill positive character traits in our students,” said Ms Jones. “We really wanted to help them understand that being respectful and responsible were important character traits and should be a part of their every day in order to learn well, help others to learn, and do their absolute best.”

She remembered that when she was in elementary school, she loved her school’s song.

“I was brainstorming ideas for a new school song that would help the students feel a sense of pride, unity and enthusiasm for our school,” Ms Jones said. “I tried to think like a child and remember adding the ‘We love Middle Gate’ cheer in the middle of the song thinking, they would love to shout that out all together, and they do!”

As the song is practiced in her class, Ms Jones said she discusses the meaning behind the lyrics with students. For the line, “We’ll always try our best, to do what’s right, because we think our school is really out of sight,” Ms Jones said she discusses what “try our best” would look like in action.

Students join together singing the song at school assemblies, on “Spirit Days” at the school, and sometimes, Ms Jones said, students sing the song in community circles.

“Sometimes I hear them singing it in their classrooms at their ‘Morning Meetings’ and it makes me feel proud to hear our song being sung well through the halls,” said Ms Jones.

For Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung there is a legend behind her school’s motto: Think you can, work hard, get smart, be kind, have fun.

Ms Hochsprung said the motto was originally, “Think you can, work hard. Get Smart.” When the school was integrating the Responsive Classroom program into the school environment, “be kind” was added to the ending of the motto.

Then, when Ms Hochsprung arrived at the school last school year, she met with teachers and parents of Sandy Hook School. Through those discussions Ms Hochsprung realized while the school community has high expectations, learning should also be “fun.” Half-way through last school year that final component of Sandy Hook’s motto was added.

After that, Sandy Hook School music teacher Maryrose Kristopik and custodian Andy Spencer wrote the school’s song.

“It really has built a sense of community,” said Ms Hochsprung.

The song and motto reinforce the fact that there are some things that everyone believes in, says Ms Hochsprung, and the Sandy Hook School community, she continued, is together, stays together no matter what with the motto and song as a reminder. 

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