Friday, September 6, 2013

The Alma Mater

On a hill in Alabam'
Life's beacon shining bright
The stately walls of Lineville High
Rise glorious to our sight

So here's to you, ol' Lineville High
Our Alma Mater true
We pledge in love and harmony
Our loyalty to you

It's been more years than I care to say since I stood at a pep rally with my 11 sisters in red and black and lead our student body in the singing of that alma mater, but I still know every word, every note. And, as I sang it on the field after the final football game of the season, I had know way of knowing that I would never hear it played again. Looking back, we didn't play it enough.

After the 2011-2012 school year, Lineville High School closed its doors forever, consolidating with that other high school in the county to form Central High School of Clay County...or some version of that name that was finally agreed upon. I'm not really sure. And, I assume they have a new alma mater, but it isn't "my" school, so I don't know.

I'd known about the consolidation for years, but I really didn't think much of it. Then, at the beginning of LHS's final year, I stood at a pep rally at another school. I listened to the coach talk about how Lineville had been "our" opening football game opponent for years and years, and this would be the last time that Cleburne County and Lineville would meet on the field. Then, the band begin to play the alma mater, and it hit me. I would never here "mine" again. I wish I had known that the last time would indeed be the last time. I might've cherished it a little more.

I thoroughly enjoyed my high school years. I was involved in many activities. I took pride in our collective accomplishments. I had fun. Then, I graduated and moved on with the rest of my life. And even though it's been years since I revisited the campus, there was something deeply sad about knowing my school is "gone". You just don't see that coming. You assume some things will always be there. And, I guess they will be. Some things you carry with you. And for those of us with Lineville on our diplomas, we will always be Aggies.

Since that day, each time I heard the CCHS alma mater, I took a minute to appreciate what it means. To me it's just one of the things that unifies a school body. We're a family. Or we should be. We spend more time with each other than we do with our own families. It should be a place where everyone feels safe and welcomed and loved. Even after they've graduated and moved away.

The last time I heard the alma mater at CCHS, I knew it would be the last time. As the notes hung in the air I took one last good look at the thing I loved about that school, the only thing I loved about it, my students. I felt a sadness that I wouldn't be there to watch my Juniors enjoy their year as kings and queens of the hill. But I needed to move on to a place where I felt safe and welcomed and appreciated.

So I found myself in a new "home" for the 2013-2014 school year. And, I couldn't help but feel like I was in the right place. On the first day of school, at the beginning of the first period of the day, a voice began the morning announcements by introducing the young lady who would sing our alma mater. We begin each morning the same way. And while I doubt that all of the students appreciate that, I can't help but think that, in time, they will.

Tonight, wherever you watch the local heroes take the field, if the band happens to play the alma mater, take a second and enjoy it. Don't ignore it. Take it in. For just a minute, be part of something bigger than yourself. And remember not to take things for granted. Because, just like my high school's song, you never know which time might be the last time.

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