On the night of the Moraine Valley Community College commencement on May 19, attendees will be the first ears to hear the college’s new alma mater.
After a nearly year-long process, including a contest, the ballad was chosen and will be performed at graduation. Last spring, board of trustee chairman John Coleman raised the idea of creating a school song, which didn’t exist. College president Dr. Sylvia Jenkins designated a team to create a contest initially for students to compose a song with the winner receiving a cash prize.
Throughout the spring and summer, Dr. Lisa Kelsay, assistant dean of Liberal Arts, worked with Doug Bratt, associate professor of music and coordinator of Academic Music; Tammi Carlson, associate professor of humanities/music; and Nick Thomas, associate professor of music, to establish criteria and requirements for the competition. Judges included students, staff, faculty, and community members who remained anonymous.
The contest was opened in fall 2016 to Moraine Valley students and in January was opened to Moraine Valley faculty, staff and alumni. The tunes were narrowed down to the top three based on lyrics, melody and staying power. Thomas recorded all three pieces, which were posted online for the campus community to vote on for 10 days. In the end, Kaylyn Walters, a student who works in the Moraine Valley tutoring center, won with her composition—“Moraine, We’ll Remember Thee.”
Walters, who has a bachelor’s degree in cellular and molecular biology and a minor in music performance and is a member of both the Moraine Valley Jazz Combo and Moraine Chorale and Chamber Singers, was inspired from everything she saw while walking across campus, particularly the quotes on the walls. She started working on her piece in the fall and went through a few drafts in the process. Her biggest challenge was fitting the song within the required melody range, but she’s happy with the outcome.
“I’ll be at graduation to hear it. I’m excited. I’m pretty glad I won. I like my song, so I’m glad others like it, too,” Walters said.
“After 50 years of our college’s existence, we now have an alma mater to last for centuries,” Dr. Kelsay said. “I’m excited to have it shared with the larger campus community and to have the composer recognized for her hard work.”