Carroll Catholic School mission statement put to music
LINCOLN — How many of us have memorized the mission statement of our school or workplace?
The students at Carroll Catholic School in Lincoln know theirs. In fact, they can sing it for you.
“In an ever-changing world, for God we always seek,” they begin in a hymn-like, original melody. “We find Him here at Carroll School, among the great and weak.”
Knowing one’s mission is always a good thing. But the students of Carroll Catholic had another motivation for learning why their school exists.
For more than a year, Carroll Catholic has been working toward a recognition for excellence known as accreditation. At the end of April, a team will visit the school — as well as Holy Family Parish in Lincoln — to see if the school qualifies.
One of the many judging standards will be how well the students know the school’s mission statement.
Carroll Catholic’s statement is about 80 words long. Visitors to the school see it almost everywhere they look — in the lobby, in classrooms and hallways. It is the first thing that appears on the school’s Web site.
But principal John Link and the teachers had one concern.
“This original mission statement has some big words,” said Ruth Freesmeier, music teacher who also serves as director of music and organist at Holy Family Parish. Among the words and phrases not easily understood by younger students are “parochial,” “stringent academic standards,” and “innovation.”
Not surprisingly for this school — whose students have composed prize-winning original works in recent years, including for a contest marking the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln last year — the solution involved creativity and music.
“When you sing something, you remember it more,” said Mrs. Freesmeier.
The music classes were challenged to come up with a mission statement song “in their terms.” Just before Christmas, the students discussed the important elements of original statement and what the words meant to them.
“We all pitched in,” said Tammy Huynh.
As one example, Max Marck cited the statement’s phrase “an ever-changing and diverse world.” To the eighth grader, that meant “we have to stay strong in the faith and have to look for God.”
The students’ statements and ideas were “mixed and remixed” until the Carroll Catholic School Mission Statement Song was born, said Mrs. Freesmeier. A chorus using words from St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer was added to emphasize “Christ is the base and foundation of everything” at the school.
Over Christmas break, Mrs. Freesmeier wrote a melody to match the lyrics, and the students sang their new song to the entire parish during a Catholic Schools Week Mass. Principal Link said it was well received, and the song even got a special blessing from Father Jeff Laible, pastor.
In a couple of weeks they’ll sing it again for the accreditation team. There are also plans to record it.
The mission statement song is the latest in a series of musical efforts by Carroll Catholic students. Just last week, for example, the eighth graders completed an ambitious “Christian rap” project that saw them form two groups — named “Ltd Edition” and “We Make It Reign” — and put on a concert complete with tickets, t-shirts, original songs, tour bus designs, photographs and backstage passes.
One lyric included: “Jesus is loving, he died on the cross / We love Him always cuz he’s the boss.”
Even if the students don’t become professional musicians, music and the arts will likely play a big role in their lives, said Mrs. Freesmeier, who is her ninth year at Carroll Catholic. “No matter what we do, it has a greater vision for the community and parish,” she added.
Fifth graders send home original compositions as a Christmas card; while sixth graders create Valentine raps for parents. The students helped compose a song for the city of Lincoln’s sesquicentennial celebration, as well as “Building God’s Kingdom,” written for a parish in Louisiana who rebuilt their church after the old one was destroyed by Hurricane Rita.
“It’s amazing what can be done in a small school,” she said.
Following is the full text of the song:
Carroll Catholic Mission Statement Song
In an ever-changing world, for God we always seek
We find Him here at Carroll School among the great and weak
We’ll make this journey on a path with those who love us so
We must work hard; we must play fair and look for ways to grow
With our minds and hands and hearts we’ll ever look to be
a child of god, a friend to you; bear fruit in word and deed
Christ be beside me, Christ be behind me, Christ be before me, dispel all my fear
Christ be below me, Christ be above me, Christ be around me, always be near