School Spirit, Red Oak Style

School spirit can take a lot of forms. At a small independent school like ours, it is typically manifest in non-traditional ways like blazing new trails through the woods together and bragging about the ways we are different from other schools on social media. But the power of more traditional heraldry like school colors and songs is not lost on us.

School colors are often worn to boost community identity and collective morale. They are usually used in pairs of primary and secondary colors that can be found on the Pantone color guide. Last year, our school adopted mud as our color as a tongue-in-cheek response to how much the kids embraced the sludge left in the wake of winter snow melts like the one we experienced this past week. While not all the kids embrace the mud with equal passion, none are afraid of venturing out in it. 

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Adopting mud as our school color challenges parents and teachers to consider what it means to choose nature-immersion education. It means standing in the freezing cold and helping kids with dirty boots. It means committing to doing more laundry as we support kids' exploration of the messiness of playing outdoors. Some of that clean-up happens individually, and some we share, again, building school spirit. 

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My daughter has, thus far, shown little interest in making mud angels. I'm grateful. In our experience then, mud is more of a metaphorical school color, standing for more than the sum of its parts and the trail it leaves behind. 

Our school song came to us by way of ROCS dad and blog contributor Mark Fisher. According to Mark, "I woke up in the middle of the night and heard in my mind a melody carrying the words Red Oak Community School. I don't remember what dream preceded that but I know I had been thinking how glad I was that Raad was attending such a wonderful school where he could spend so much time playing and learning outside in all kinds of weather. Once the song started I couldn't stop so I went downstairs and finished it, plunking out the music on the piano as quietly as I could while the family slept." 

Here's what he came up with:

Mark planned to teach the song to the kids but major surgery got in his way. Upon hearing the song and Mark's plan, ROCS Director Cheryl Ryan suggested we teach it to the kids and send Mark a recording as a form of Get Well message. Having taught the kids a song last year, I volunteered to introduce it to them and Miss Maureen planned to practice it with them. 

When he first introduced the song to me, Mark feared it might be too corny. But it's a perfect alma mater, which, according to Wikipedia "is typically slow, light in instrumentation and with lyrics that wax nostalgic about the institution's setting and affirm the singer's devotion to, and fondness for, the institution." When I talked through the lyrics with the kids, they instantly commented on the slow tempo which they eagerly associated with the Star Wars theme song. They also noticed the repetition between verses which is part of what makes it such a catchy tune.

Here's their first public rendition. There's sure to be many, many more.

Jodi Kushins
ROCS Mom and Blog Editor