Alma Mater History
The Sordid History of Loara's Alma Mater
Loara has gone through many transitions in it's 50 year History. Saxon Shield archives, blog posts by Doug Hunt ('69) and Paul Chylinski ('83), and interviews of numerous students and teachers, indicate that the Alma Mater we have been singing for years is in fact the second version of our beloved song. Volume 1, Issue 1 of the Saxon Shield introduced the first version to the students as follows:
Original Alma Mater
All hail Loara, all hail thy fair name,
they loyal sons and daughters will always sing thy fame.
Thy colors I'll cherish, in fond memory.
I'll sing thy praise and glory
wherever I may be.
I'll sing thy praise and glory
wherever I may be.
Questions arose as to when did it change, why did it change and who changed it?
John D. Marshall ('69) discovered while preserving the Saxon Shields for posterity sake that there are two articles that show a shift and a controversial voting measure with respect to the Alma Mater. It appears that the school's student body was to vote in November 1964 (per the Saxon Shield dated November 5, 1964) on whether the the Alma Mater should be changed at mid-year. Apparently that vote was thrown out due to "inadequate voting procedures" and another was to take place as stated in the December 3, 1964 edition of the Saxon Shield. Following that, we have yet to find any written decision as to when the switch actually happened; but we know in fact that it did happen finally happen per the November 18, 1965 Saxon Shield.
Anthony Mastroangelo ('65) offers this as an explanation regarding the controversy:
"Several, and do not ask for names as I can not tell you, put together a bunch of words that some here are calling the 'first alma mater.' Problem being no one, except perhaps some creating the words, were willing to accept it. To the best of my knowledge the above referenced individual work was never accepted as our alma mater via a stand alone vote. By the end of the '62-'63 year the issue of the alma mater started to become contentious especially because of the insistence over its use.
At the beginning of the '63-'64 term the Chamber Singers had just been formed and their director, Edwin Grace [succeeded by Preston Woolf (1922-1986) the following year], suggested that as a new group they could contribute greatly to our school by writing new and more musically appropriate lyrics. The Chamber Singers took on the task with vigor.
After an extended period of repeated rewrites, it was finally decided that our own Mrs. Molly Wampler should be asked to accept the role of poet laureate for Loara. In all the charm and patience always displayed by this wonderful lady, she agreed to help us in putting together a blend of words that for whatever reason seemed to elude us for too long a time. The final draft of the alma mater provided by Mrs. Wampler, to the best of my knowledge, never had so much as one word changed since it was presented back to the group that also unanimously approved of it.
The student body ultimately voted to adopt the words written by Mrs. Wampler which was to used in conjunction with the musical composition of James Ployhar."
The Alma Mater has been sung using its current text and tune since then. It is sung at every Assembly, Game and Event. The students raise two fingers in the air (indicating a sign of "victory" whether Loara teams have won or lost) because, as Saxons, we always are winners.
This was found in Doug Hunt's original blog:
"In the Saxon Shield they finally accepted the Alma Mater. This article doesn't really clear up any mystery we didn't already know, and we don't really have any knowledge to why they threw out the vote, but here it is in black in white that during the 64 - 65 year they 'didn't have an Alma Mater and they played the fight song slow', but by November 18, 1965, a day before their Homecoming when they announced their first Queen, an article comes out about the 'controversial Alma Mater.'"
The music sheets for the Alma Mater can be found at Loara Band Textbook, http://www.loaraband.com/textbook.html or by clicking on the links for each instrument here (.pdf format):
1962 - The Original Alma Mater is written but never accepted by the student body.
1962-1964 - The Fight Song is used in lieu of an Alma Mater.
1963/64 - The newly formed Chamber Singers under the direction of Edwin Grace takes on the task of rewriting the Alma Mater. One such rewrite was submitted by Mr. Marino (1927-2014) who based it on Cornell University's "Far Above Cayugao's Waters." Another was written by Mrs. Molly Wampler (1906-2007) and arranged by Mr. James Ployhar (1926-2007).
November 1964 - Prior to completion of the arrangement by Mr. Ployhar, a first student body vote was taken and subsequently declared invalid.
December 1964 - A second vote was scheduled.
November 18, 1965 - The Second Alma Mater was finally chosen as the "official" Alma Mater.
-Anthony Mastroangelo ('65)
-Douglas Hunt ('69) http://users.sisna.com/doughunt/loara/index.html
-John D. Marshall ('69)
-Paul Chylinski ('82) http://loarahighschool.blogspot.com/search?q=Alma+mater
-The Saxon Shield, various volumes and issues
-James Ployhar, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Ployhar
-Molly (Frick) Wampler, https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/molly-wampler-obituary?pid=87281369