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Alma Mater Project

The Wild and Organic Creation of an Original Song
Alma Mater Project 2024

You may ask yourself, What is an Alma Mater ? An Alma Mater is a school song, traditionally used as a musical symbol at official institutional events, such as commencement or award ceremonies, and sometimes at the beginning or end of alumni or sporting events  You may be familiar with the Alma Mater at your home school.

The idea for this Gilbert High School alma mater project emerged in Quarter 4 with five students in Music Appreciation Class, 5th period. Mia Picasso, Pablo Palacios, Luis Ordonez, Layla Madrid, and Justin Sanchez worked with their teacher Ms. Janelle Frese and guest teacher Mr. Fernando Delgado to carve out the structure, sound, and theme of the song, then invited the campus to join them. Students and staff participated in a Power Up activity, and a handful of students dropped by room 12 from time to time to share ideas and participate in drum circles with the class.

Luis Ordonez and Pablo Palacios collaborated on a Canva design, which became the nifty handout that was distributed door to door and later collected to become part of the results. Justin Sanchez and Mia Picasso worked together to create the Slides presentation and google form for the campus activity, which included a QR code which was shared digitally and also posted on campus walls.

The Music Appreciation Class invited digital responses by asking staff and students and Gilbert alumni, “What words should be included in Gilbert’s Alma Mater ?”

The music appreciation class reviewed all ideas, created spreadsheets, and poured out their hearts and souls to try to incorporate the best ideas for the lyrics. They included all the appropriate ones, anyway!

They thanked everyone for their participation and promised to include as many contributors as possible in the credits of the song. Their original goal was to have the song ready to debut at Graduation rehearsal. May 20th!

Mr. Delgado and students recorded the first audio version of the music for the alma mater, which included keyboards, acoustic guitar, and African djembe percussion. Ms. Frese later incorporated a drum kit rhythm and assigned students in all her classes to help fine tune the lyrics by sharing out in drum circles.

Here are the lyrics of the song that were shared at the recent Civic Engagement event at the Nixon Library where Citlally Rodriguez represented the class and shared the Alma Mater project slide deck:

“Home of Second Chances”                                                                                                

The Alma Mater of Gilbert High School

Gilbert High School, our second home

Where we know we’re not alone

We’re the  Gladiators-we persevere

With grit and hope, we conquer fear

Gilbert High School, the peaceful place

To make our own sacred space

Gilbert High School, our second home

Where the Gladiators proudly roam

Teachers give students a second chance

And Students give teachers another chance

To trust again and work together

To make learning feel so much better    

We never give up. This is our community

We’re the Gladiators- a school family

Gilbert’s love and gratitude

Is the Gladiator attitude 

This is the Home of Second Chances

Where Gilbert High School forever enhances

Hearts and Souls and Futures so bright

With every ounce of Gladiator might

Today, May 15th, Ms. Frese and seven music appreciation students went to OC Sound Studios in Anaheim, located adjacent to the legendary Linda’s Doll Hut music venue, to professionally record the song. Before posing outside for an official “band shot” these students experienced a real music studio recording session, and worked diligently for over two hours to get the lyrics right and get all the tracks they needed to complete the first cut of the song. This included the drum track (Ms. Frese) the African djembe track (Pablo, Citlally, Mia, Xio, and Ms. Frese) the bass track (Pablo) the keyboard track (Mia)  the vocal track (Xio, Luis, Citlally, and Mia) and the guitar track was performed by a very secret industry professional (a friend of Gilbert High School).

Xiomara Tagle created the amazing vocal arrangement, on the spot, with lyrics that were edited and finalized by Merri Acosta and Char Walker. Ms. Frese wrote out the new lyrics on a big yellow pad so it would be big enough to read. Xio grabbed the paper and positioned it on the music stand and then the four vocalists went to work on their vocal track.

The music, which is about two minutes long, provided enough space for the vocal team to sing the alma mater’s lyrics twice through.

There were other students and alumni who were invited to the session who would have also been recorded, but due to work schedules, last minute grades and graduation status, they had to stay behind. All in all, everyone seems pleased with the session work and look forward to the mixed and mastered result.

OC Sound Studio engineer, Phil, worked his magic to get all the tracks recorded and ready for mixing before the Gladiators had to return to school to catch their buses home.

Here are the revised lyrics used today in the recording session:

Gilbert High School Alma Mater

“The Home of Second Chances”

Gilbert High, our second home

Here we know we’re not alone

Gladiators conquer fear

With grit, and hope, we persevere

Here we build a strong foundation

To carry on for generations

We give each other a second chance

To earn respect and trust again

This is our community

Our Gladiator family

Gilbert High, our second home

Where Gladiators proudly roam



Written and Performed by…(official credits coming soon)





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About the Contributor
Luz Chavarria
Luz Chavarria, Staff Writer

Hi my name is Luz! I’m a senior at Gilbert high school and my favorite color is pink

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