Home Opinion Mine Creek Revelations: School Songs Pt. 2

Mine Creek Revelations: School Songs Pt. 2


(PART 2) With an assist from our John Balch this article was researched and written several years ago when we were just “The Leader.” All of the people mentioned or quoted are now deceased, but their contributions to ‘our’ beloved schools and communities live on.

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The school song, or the alma mater, of four area high schools were all written by students. That’s unique.

Two of the schools use original music, and two use common tunes to go with the words which were written by the students. The words, according to several of the authors, generally came together surprisingly fast and were easily matched with the music.

“Alma mater” means nourishing mother in Latin, and the songwriters all chose to give that title to their songs.

Last week in Part 1, we wrote about the school songs at Nashville and Mineral Springs. This week it’s all about the Outlaws and the Rattlers and the people who wrote those songs.

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A grand old school we hold

with high esteem

A sophomore Outlaw cheerleader, Jackie Simpson Dyer, decided it was high time for Dierks High School to have an alma mater in 1945-46. “Everybody around us had a song. We might have been little but we were loud and we were the Outlaws.”

She wrote the words during a study hall, and some time later heard a marching band playing a song which her words fit.

The music was the chorus to a well-known march, “Our Director” (F.E. Bigelow, 1895).

Dyer said that her fellow cheerleaders learned the song first, then they all taught it to the other students. “It just spread and was real popular.”

She said she had no idea she was composing something that would be around for a long time. The last time she heard the Dierks alma mater was at a class reunion about five years ago, she told the “Leader.”

The tune, “Our Director,” is the musical part of more school songs than any one other piece. It is also a very common musical accompaniment to homecoming and graduation processions.

When Dierks students sing the alma mater, they wave their right index fingers for “Number 1.” They sing:

Ever will we sing thy praises.

Ever will we think of thee

As a school of pleasant hours

And a school of pleasant memories.

We love you, dear old Dierks High school;

We think you are supreme

Because you’re such a grand old school,

We hold with high esteem.

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A student’s humble love we bring,

Our Alma Mater we will sing.

Murfreesboro High School’s official scrapbooks were saved from the disastrous fire of 1997 by a school bookkeeper, Pat Kizzia, who had the foresight to take them to safety before the fire got serious. Among the treasured papers she saved was a copy of the student body’s adoption of the alma mater on Nov. 1, 1939. The scrapbook’s handwritten note says:

“The words and music to the Alma Mater have been selected. We extend our thanks to Welton Meeks and Betty Jean Callaway for this lovely dedication to Murphy Hi.”

The “Leader” contacted a number of people in Murfreesboro, and none knew the whereabouts of Meeks or Callaway, or whether they are even still alive, but the two-verse alma mater the duo composed then is still sung by students at Murfreesboro.

There is a prescribed ritual to follow when singing the Murfreesboro alma mater. A student should stand straight, with the back of the left hand pressed to the small of the back. The right hand is extended straight up, palm out.

Steuart and Opal Cooley of Nashville were Murfreesboro High students around the time the song was adopted. Opal suggests that the music was probably written by Meeks because he played the piano “all the time.” He lived across the street from her home, and in those days of open-window home cooling, she could hear him practicing daily. “I believe all he did was play the piano, play the piano.” Although the whereabouts of the authors of the song are unknown, there are a lot of people in south Pike County who sing from the heart:

A student’s humble love we bring,

Our Alma Mater we will sing.

We’ll love and cherish ‘til we die,

All glory to thee Murphy High.

For faith and hope and loyalty,

Fond mem’ries that around thee cling.

Our hearts are pledged to thee we sing,

All glory to thee Murphy High.

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We’ll be faithful and true.

The school songs are played by bands, and are sung by students, alumni and others at school activities, graduation exercises, pep rallies and ball games. They are musical and emotional connections that last for a lifetime.

Just ask graduates of Nashville, Mineral Springs, Dierks or Murphy Hi.

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