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Warrior Spirit: UChicago Charter Creates School Song with Chicago Symphony Orchestra

July 25, 2013

Last spring students at the University of Chicago Charter School’s Woodlawn campus (UCW) undertook the creation of a new school song, “Warrior Spirit.” Opened in 2006, UCW serves approximately 500 students in grades six through twelve. A representative from each of those grades joined a teaching artist from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) to explore songwriting techniques - and ultimately create the lyrics, melody, and harmony for the new song – as part of a partnership with the CSO that began in 2010, in collaboration with the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute.

Over a series of four workshops, the students discussed rhyming schemes and traditional song form between sessions of rhythm games and vocal exercises. At the heart of the process was the UCW “Warrior’s Creed,” recited by students each day during morning assembly. Students aimed to bring the most important themes of the creed to the fore in the lyrics for the new song, emphasizing guiding concepts from the creed such as responsibility, imagination, respect, and strength.

The new song debuted at a celebratory year-end recital that included an appearance by CSO Judson and Joyce Green Creative Consultant Yo-Yo Ma, a tireless advocate for arts experiences for young people and a stalwart supporter of the CSO’s programming at UCW. In the fall, students reconvened to refresh the song for a special recording session that brought together musicians of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago – the CSO’s training orchestra for young professional musicians – with UCW singers, creating a record of the song for posterity. 

In a reflection session after the recording project, students shared that they have strengthened their confidence, expanded their horizons, and grown both academically and personally as part of the “Warrior Spirit” project and participation in other CSO opportunities at UCW. But students acknowledged that the accomplishment of “Warrior Spirit” is greater than just their own experience; it’s also about having created a school tradition that will last for years to come. As UCW Middle School Director Rob Lane pointed out, the scope of the undertaking “delivers a message to the community about its value” and that students should dream big because “dreams really can become reality.” 

Check out “Warrior Spirit” here, and student reflections here.

Warrior Spirit: The UCW School Song

Warrior spirit
United we stand, divided we fall
Warrior spirit
Making the world a better place for all
 
I control my future
With strength and integrity
I am the torchbearer
Thriving off the great in me
 
So many paths to my destiny
Only I can choose it
I'll use my talents to bring out my best
Because I know I can do it
 
Warrior spirit
United we stand, divided we fall
Warrior spirit
Making the world a better place for all
 
Mind to mind and soul to soul
Supporting my sisters and brothers
Though we may not be the same
We respect one another
 
I am a leader and scholar
Any mountain I can climb
For my strength is great
Zulu Warrior all the time
 
Warrior spirit
United we stand, divided we fall
Warrior Spirit
Making the world a better place for all
 
I will always use my imagination
To make my own creation
Through hard work and determination
Standing on Woodlawn's foundation
 
Warrior spirit
United we stand, divided we fall
Warrior Spirit
Making the world a better place for all
For all