The Harbinger Online

An Ode to Our Ode

Shawnee Mission hail to thee…

The first time I heard those precious words, and the song that followed them, I was not impressed. I didn’t like my new school’s song. I thought it sounded ugly and lacked a pleasant, melodious sound.

Today, I think it’s the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard.

Lancers we will ever be…

So what changed? How did I come to love our school song so much?

It wasn’t just that I sang it at the beginning of every single choir class for four years. Or at the end of basketball and football games.

We stand behind our colors bright…

It was something deeper than that. Something that we were doing when we sang at games and in class.

Columbia blue, black and white…

It’s no secret by now that I’m a big fan of social unity. I’m the Breakfast Club guy. I yearn for true human connection more than anything else in life.

High school days too soon are gone…

When we sing our song at games, what do we always do? We lock arms. The motion is powerfully symbolic. Locking arms with our neighbors sends a message that resonates in the lyrics of our anthem. That we are together. That every Lancer is part of our Shawnee Mission East family. When it really counts, we are united.

But fond memories linger on…

The school song summons many memories of singing it. But my favorite ones aren’t times after a big victory. My favorite memories of our song are times when we sang it after a bad loss. Times when our song brought me and all the other Lancer fans comfort, told us that things were all right because we were lucky enough to be at East, whether our teams won or lost. Those were the my favorite times to sing our song. And then there was Monday.

May our spirits be increased…

As 167 Choraliers faded away from the final note of the beautiful Old Irish Blessing, I was beside myself. I leaned over the columbia blue railing of the stairwell, scars of sadness dripping down my cheeks. The only sounds to be heard were the sobs and whimpering of my fellow Choraliers. Then, out of the teary silence, we began to sing again. Shawnee Mission hail to thee… 

In my rare moment of true mourning for a fallen hero I had never known, those words had a bigger effect on me than ever before. Those lyrics told me things would get better moving forward. They said this tragedy would change everything for my peers. They said that I had found true human connection in a place I’d been looking for it for four years. It said: Lancers we will ever be. In that moment, the song which had once struck me as ugly became the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard.

And God watch over SM East.

Rest in peace, Tyler Rathbun.



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Matt Hanson

Matt is a senior and the Head Copy Editor for print. He enjoys the KU Jayhawks, basketball and the Breakfast Club. Read Full »

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