Today, I will be all historical. I will do something I have never done before. I will talk about my former high school. I loved it. I had dreamt of attending it since I was a little girl. Some of my best moments happened there. Five years down the line, the memories are still etched in my brain.
I love singing. I love music. I believe it is the easiest way to get a concept into my head. The music has to make sense though and it also has to be something I will not be ashamed to blurt out in front of people. What has this got to do with high school, you ask? I guess you will find out.
That said, here is a little of my life at Alliance Girls High School, songs and all. Somehow, most significant memories I will tie to songs and effortlessly so.
On my first day in Dorcas Luseno House, my sweet house mum handed me the beautiful school song written down on a piece of paper. As the shaky new student I was, my first thought was Pressure! (Ok, pressure was a catchphrase in high school right around the time I got in, so I couldn’t have possibly thought that because I had not learnt it yet. Oh well.)
Moving on, I heard the school song sang for the first time and was completely blown away. It was the sweetest song I had ever heard. I wish I could sing it to you. Here goes:
Friends are precious, they are the best of all things that one can ever have,
Nothing material can take the place of the comradeship between you and I.
Genuine friendship has no jealousy, no pride,
It has no envy and no lies.
It has no room for loneliness and pain,
Because it’s all based on love, based on love
The light of Alliance has always been, and forever will be our guide.
Challenge can never alter the course of the goals we’ve all set for our lives.
The light of Alliance stands for unity and hope,
It binds us together makes us one,
It gives us the strength to courageously go forth,
All in the power of the Lord, of the Lord!
All through the four years I was there, I fought tears every time we sang it, our left hands placed on the crest that adorned our jerseys. I imagined we did that to sing to our hearts below that crest. Needless to say, I loved that it reminded us to love, walk in the light and with the Lord.
The other thing I had always known was that I was going to join choir. Mostly because I had watched the girls and the boys (from across the valley) sing a couple of times in my childhood. I went for the auditions that first Saturday. I am not sure what I sang but I got in. That was the beginning of an amazing journey.
Most set pieces were typically old, I guess that’s why they sounded so good. I particularly remember ‘Follow Me Down to Carlow’. There is a certain joy that comes with getting all the notes and words right in a set piece. It is even more awesome when the different altos and sopranos belt out the complete tune.
“Girls, round your voices!”
“Sing from the stomach!”
“Don’t take sugar tonight!”
These are some of the directives that would characterize most talk in the music room most evenings.
Then there was mixed choir. The boys from our brother school would come over or we would go to their school. We sang timeless pieces like ‘Gentle Lena Clare’ and ‘Zadok the Priest’. We the girls loved mixed choir so much but pretended like we did not. Just to speak for myself, I loved it but did not make the most out of it. As naïve as this may sound, I loved mixed choir because it brought tenor and bass into the arrangement, not because I would hang out with boys.
I was the most antisocial girl you could have met back then. Immediately practice was over, I would take to my heels to avoid any contact with a boy. Yeah, most of the friends I have from ‘Across’ today, I met after high school. (Across was the name we called Alliance High School. They also called our school that. Do not get confused. Both the schools are known as Bush among peers but Across to each other. A student at Across is an Acrossian. I guess I should quit the slang lessons now.)
To cut the long story short, mixed choir came to an upsetting end that year. We were abandoned but put on brave faces. So determined were we to prove that we could make it on our own that we practiced day and night for the Negro spiritual ‘Every Time I Feel the Spirit’. When we sang it at the Church of the Torch over a Joint Institutional Service, commonly known as JIS, I can tell you the Spirit was in us. Negro spirituals were my favourite songs in choir. They possess this intensity that makes you so delighted to sing for the Lord.
Then there were the annual Easter and Christmas Carol services. These were glorious. I learnt new carols and loved the renditions. Basically, half of my life in Bush was spent in choir. I cannot possibly recount everything that happened and where it took me.
All I can say is that what I am today, what I know, me and Jesus, all were made solid in Bush. And I cannot even begin to deny the power of music. Think about it.
That will be all, for now.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs. Psalm 100:1-2