Creating identity one song at a time

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A group of local children made their mark in history as recording artists last week.

Grade 3 and 6 students at St. Mary’s School made a CD recording of a new school song, titled the St. Mary’s Way, on Feb. 24.

The song, written by Grade 3 teacher Terry Siqueira, is based on the school’s creed and brings a unique twist to the words students recite regularly.

“We say the creed in the morning with the whole school and it’s a song now,” said Grade 3 student Genevičve Scott. “It was awesome.”

Students in Siqueira’s class practiced the song for about six weeks before they met after school for the recording session, where they were accompanied by a piano.

“I go to piano lessons, so hopefully one day I’ll be able to play it, too,” said Scott. “I already know what it sounds like and I really like the song.”

The St. Mary’s Way is not the first school song Siqueira has written during his 27 years in the division – many Christ the Redeemer Catholic schools have benefited from his musical expertise.

His first was the Good Shepherd Lives in Me, written and recorded by students at Good Shepherd School 26 years ago. Since then, he has composed songs for Holy Trinity Academy, St. John Paul II Collegiate, and Holy Spirit Academy and Notre Dame Collegiate in High River.

He’s done something different this time. The entire recording session was captured by professional photographers and videographers to provide a memento of the event.

“When I did the first song, the Good Shepherd song, I didn’t take any videos that first year so I lost track of a lot of this kids and some of them have passed away on me too, at a young age,” said Siqueira. “So this video is a great keepsake because you forget how kids grow up and they’ll grow up and remember this.”

He had been asked to compose a song based on the St. Mary’s Way creed four and a half years ago, but said the inspiration for the song didn’t come to him until just recently.

About seven weeks ago while strumming his guitar along with the creed written on the wall, Siqueira was inspired. He wrote the song in about 30 minutes.

“Once I had the theme in my mind, it just fell together,” he said. “Everything just seemed to fit, it was like magic. It just happened.

“It’s just the way it happens sometimes, you’re not expecting it, and suddenly some magic happens on it and you can do everything to make it work out.”

Over the past weeks, the song has been well received by students in Grades 1, 3 and 6, and he said the fact it relates to all age levels in the school is the mark of a good song.

Whether or not popularity of the song lasts will be up to time, he said.

“There are certain songs that make it,” said Siqueira. “The Terry Fox song I wrote seven years ago, the kids still like it, so that’s a good song.”

The Good Shepherd Lives in Me still has a following 26 years later, he said, and he has been asked to play the song at graduations, baptisms, weddings and funerals.

One child, who was on the original CD recording of the Good Shepherd song, passed away from cancer shortly after the CD was made and the parents wrote the words of the chorus on his gravestone, he said.

“I couldn’t even go to the grave site for many years,” said Siqueira. “I finally went and what did I see, the chorus of The Good Shepherd Lives in Me, it’s in Okotoks on the tombstone. It’s powerful.”

The boy listened to the song during chemotherapy treatment, he said, and it had a special place in the family’s heart.

It’s having students connect with his music that makes Siqueira continue to write.

“If the children can identify with that song, it brings a lot more meaning,” he said. “Identity is so important, it’s important for the kids and the school, so it’s nice to be a part of that.”

Principal Brandon Bailey said turning the school creed into a song is something the school has wanted for a while, to make it even more relatable for students.

When Siqueira presented the song to the principal and they decided to make the recording, Bailey suggested having a videographer capture the event.

“We wanted to really get those little moments,” said Bailey. “Being recorded is a big piece, but also the pictures and the videos were nice to have.

“It’s as much the journey of creating it as it is the finished piece.”

St. Mary’s Way Creed

We work, play and welcome all with “Open Arms.”We use our words, hands and hearts to help others.We ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”We are a family.We pray to St. Mary to watch over, guide and protect us.Amen

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