The Real Reason Students Sing the “Alma Mater” at Assembly


Zach Smith

Middle School students stand and sing the "alma Mater" during assembly in the Barker Performing Arts Center on Monday, October 1, 2018.

“We love you orange and blue.” This is the last line of “The Benjamin School Alma Mater,” the TBS theme song written more than 20 years ago by Mr. Mark Poncy, brother-in-law to Student Services Director Mrs. Susan Poncy.

Students in the Middle School sing this song every Monday in assembly to show school spirit, a tradition that began two years ago.”It’s the school’s song, so it’s an important song that only goes to The Benjamin School,” said Chorus Director Mr. Andrew Winters, who used to have his chorus students sing the song at assembly when the tradition began. “It’s not Jupiter Christian’s alma mater, it is not St.Marks’ alma mater. It is The Benjamin Schools’ song,” he said.

Many students enjoy singing the song and think it shows school spirit.

“It represents how the Benjamin School has helped guide students through the years,” said sixth grader Emily Simon.

“You sing it and learn [the alma mater],” said seventh grader Colby Mack, “then you love it. It also teaches you school spirit.”

Many teachers feel the same way.

“Singing the alma mater shows a strong degree of student and faculty devotion to the school, and an investment in the school’s good name,” said Student Services Director Mrs. Susan Poncy. “When we all stand and sing the alma mater together, it is an opportunity to demonstrate our reverence and loyalty to Benjamin.”

“I think the alma mater is a fabric of school culture,” said Head of the Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy. “It brings you together and it is a spiritual way to celebrate the School. Students and faculty share a bond by singing the alma mater and celebrating the school,” he said.

However,  some students think the song is unnecessary.

”The alma mater is waste of time and we miss some of A period because of it,” said seventh grader Christian Smith. “The school could [have students] show spirit by adding more spirit days and things like that.”

Other students believe that the song is not inspiring school spirit as it is intended. “Because it is just a song about school, it’s not telling anything about the school [or school spirit],” said seventh grader Zach Neidoff.

Perhaps the administration installed the singing of the alma mater at assembly to help fix a bigger problem: a lack of school spirit in the Middle School.

“When we have spirit days or dress up days,” said Dean of Academics Mr. Charles Maddox, “the students are excited and pumped, but on regular days it’s lacking and there’s no attendance at sports games and events, mainly because students don’t realize how good they get it here,” he said.  

Many students and members of the TBS community do not attend events that pertain to the Middle School or TBS at large. According to a poll of 73 middle school students, 51% of them have not attended a middle school athletic or arts event, and 70% say they have not attended and upper school athletic event this year.

However, 84% of students say they will attend at least one middle school athletic or arts event this year. In addition, 77% of the polled students say school spirit in the Middle School is strong, and 94% are proud to attend TBS.

Perhaps the perceived lack of school spirit stems from a single grade. For example, at the first school dance of the year, held September 28 in the gym, 92% of the sixth grade attended, 65% of the seventh grade attended, but only 9% of the eighth grade attended. Maybe if the eighth graders bought into the idea of participation and school spirit, the perception of the Middle School would be different.

For now, the administration will try to bolster school spirit through the singing of the alma mater and various fun activities (more activities at this year’s dance, music at lunch during Spirit Week, etc.). However, the Class of 2023 needs to do its part by leading by example.