As Upper Arlington celebrates its centennial this year, a group of Tremont Elementary School students have marked the occasion with a legacy song.
The song "Serve, Lead, Succeed" seeks not only to honor Upper Arlington's 100th birthday and this year's community celebration, but also embraces Upper Arlington schools' mission statement.
It's the work of fifth-grade members of Tremont's Songwriting Club, established by school media specialist Kristin Bugnitz when the students who wrote the song were still in third grade. The club is co-directed by school music teacher Tino Benedetti.
"Serve, Lead, Succeed" marks the third straight year the Songwriting Club has penned an original song.
This one, school advisers hope, will offer a positive message for future students and generations.
"Our kids kind of viewed it as their gift to kids that are coming," Bugnitz said. "The word 'anthem' kind of came up a few times.
"It's something that really ingrained what we believe in in Upper Arlington -- kind of our hopes and dreams."
In every sense, Benedetti said, "Serve, Lead, Succeed" was a collaboration in education, songwriting and community.
Students used the school's media center and footage from a video about Upper Arlington to learn about local history. They also teamed with their club directors and Columbus songwriter Fran Litterski to develop lyrics and a melody.
After about a month, they came up with the song, which features a verse that asks others to learn, share and make "lots of friends" so the "UA spirit will never, ever end."
"A lot of what we're doing in the club fits our curriculum really well," Benedetti said. "We also really wanted to demystify the act of songwriting.
"It's really something that everybody should be able to do. We've been successful in it being something that people have been interested in ... and it's been really exciting to see it take off. We keep being asked to perform in different venues."
Benedetti said the project "shows kids how relevant their work can be."
Bugnitz called the fifth-graders who wrote the song "amazing leaders and passionate learners."
She said they bought into the rigors of research while keeping the project entertaining.
"It's meant to be fun -- I mean, it is a club -- and we asked them to keep a historical mood," Bugnitz said. "I think it brings in what kids are looking at with this (centennial).
"This was another way of seeing what our kids are looking at when they think of our history."
Tremont Principal Jim Buffer said the project showed once again the value of cross-curricular learning, the dedication of staff and the talent of students.
He was particularly pleased the group got to follow up a winter concert with a performance of "Serve, Lead, Succeed" at the district's annual State of the Schools event Feb. 5.
"This was such a powerful experience for our student songwriters," Buffer said. "They loved the opportunity to work with a professional songwriter, and to hear them perform this original work at the annual State of the Schools was humbling and inspiring.
"I'm very proud of these creative students."