By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE-Listen closely to these young voices raised in song–because along with the musical notes, a careful ear can also detect the sounds of pride in school and in their community. Johnson Elementary School Music Educator Tracy Reinhard wrote the Johnson school song shortly after joining the school this year.

“I had visited with the Principal (Cheryl Gomez) last spring,” said Reinhard, who also teaches at Cottonwood Elementary. “I asked her about the school mascot, the Thunderbird, and learned about the PEAKS program.”

PEAKS is an acronym that stands for “Proud. Effort. Aware. Kind. Safe,” and exemplifies the school’s ongoing character education emphasis. “I started doing some research on Thunderbirds,” said Reinhard, who also penned a school song for Cottonwood. “I knew the song should sound Native American. So I thought about melodies over the summer, and during the first week of school I wrote the song.”

The melody is simple, so that it is easy for young children to learn. And the use of drums helps to create a sound reflective of Native American cultures. “We have a great, big gathering drum, and maracas for a steady beat,” Reinhard said. “It sounds very authentic, and the kids really love it.”

Johnson Elementary Principal Cheryl Gomez said that the whole school has benefited from having a new anthem.

“The kids are so excited,” Gomez said. “And when the teachers get to watch them sing the school song, everybody is happy. There are smiles all around!”

Having a school song, “brings ownership to the kids and makes them proud,” Reinhard said.

Students will perform the Johnson School song at the next Pow Wow Assembly in early March.