Alma Mater, Fight Song Appear at Pep Rally

St. Luke’s students who attended this year’s Pep Rally would have undoubtedly notice something new in the program. Of course, the old traditions were upheld: the middle schoolers presented their Homecoming banners to the crowd for its shouted approval, the varsity teams advertised their games, and our faculty masters of ceremonies (this year, Mr. Lundquist stepped up to fill Mr. Phelps’ shoes alongside Mr. Henson) worked hard to “pump up” the student body in preparation for the most important day on the SLS calendar.

Unlike in years past, however, two pieces of music made an appearance: the familiar Alma Mater and an enigma – the so-called “Fight Song” which no one, not even longtime faculty members like Mr. Havens or Mr. Flachsbart, had heard before.

Vincent Sutton '45, author "The Fight Song" (left), and Dr. Joseph R. Kidd, author of the "Alma Mater" (right).

Vincent Sutton ’45, author “The Fight Song” (left), and Dr. Joseph R. Kidd, author of the “Alma Mater” (right).

That these songs made an appearance during this year’s Pep Rally can be chalked up to the efforts of this year’s student government. The Student Council, under the leadership of President Ben Decatur, has been working hard this year to awaken interest in St. Luke’s rich history among the student body. The Founders’ Cup is perhaps the best example of this effort, which administrators and faculty members alike have praised: Mr. Foley, Director of the Center for Leadership, recently complimented the Student Council on creating a focus on Hilltop tradition unprecedented in his thirteen years at St. Luke’s. The two songs that were sung on Friday are excellent examples of fruits of this project.

The Alma Mater, written by former headmaster Dr. Joseph R. Kidd in 1941, is familiar to St. Luke’s students (for those who aren’t able to sing it themselves, the Sentinel has posted a video of the Acafellas and Take Note performing the piece here), just as it was intended to be when it was written. When Dr. Kidd unveiled his composition, it was prophesied in the Sentinel that “this song will undoubtedly take an important place in the life of the School,” and indeed the Alma Mater has been a fixture at formal events such as Commencement for many years.

“The Victory Song,” on the other hand, is far less well-known, at least in the present day. During its heyday in the fifties and sixties, however, it was more familiar to students than the Alma Mater. One alumnus (Frederick Steiwer ’71, who alerted members of student government to the existence of the fight song, and was even able to sing all the lyrics, some forty years after leaving the Hilltop) estimated that he had sung it “at least a thousand times” during his long tenure at St. Luke’s.

“The Victory Song,” unlike the Alma Mater, was written by a student: Vincent A. Sutton ’45. As a freshman in 1941, Sutton collaborated with his sister Gloria, a student at the Gray Court School in Stamford, to write the lyrics, which were set to the tune of the “Washington and Lee Swing.” For this accomplishment, Sutton, who spent eight years at SLS, was recognized by his classmates as the “boy who has done the most for St. Luke’s.”

As his fellow seniors put it in their yearbook: “It’s hard to remember when ‘Vin’ hasn’t been seen in the halls on the hilltop. From the first, the gridiron and the diamond have been common territory for him, and he’s been business manager of this and that ever since he crossed our threshold back in 1935. ‘Sut’ isn’t talkative, but he can always be relied upon to be anywhere at the right time. He likes to plan and fix up things, knows all the girls, and is an all-around fellow. His destination is uncertain, but his future—smooth sailing all the way.”

To listen to the Upper School Chorale sing “The Victory Song,” please click here.

— Sebastian Bates, Editor-in-Chief

Posted by on October 24, 2013. Filed under School News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry