CHICAGO, May 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- When Middle School music teacher Mr. Justin Taylor Nixon gave his students at Sacred Heart Schools Chicago an assignment to write a poem, lyrics, rap or spoken word, he didn't know what to expect. He simply asked, "What do you want to say?" He intentionally left the creative writing assignment broad so his students were compelled to write what was on their minds. What he didn't expect was that the news of the day – the Paris bombings, the San Bernadino shooting, racial tensions in the U.S. – would have such a profound impact on the students and what they were feeling. From more than 200 writing submissions, a common theme stood out – one of social justice, action and acceptance of all.
Inspired by their words, the song Stand Up was written and set to music. It was first performed at the Middle School Music Concert in January and immediately Mr. Nixon and his students felt the power of their message and knew they wanted to share it with the world. After months of preparation, Stand Up debuts today on iTunes and Google Play for $0.99 and, to help spread their message of peace and impel greater action, the students and Mr. Nixon agreed that 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit Howard Area Community Center, which serves disadvantaged youth and families in neighboring Rogers Park.
"It is a dream come true to finally share our song with our friends and family, and now the world," said Gellila A., 7th grade Academy student whose spoken word is included as the rap portion of Stand Up. "I hope the messages in the song inspire our generation to stand up and make this a better world for all."
Mr. Nixon, a published composer and accomplished performer, has worked in the Sacred Heart network of schools for more than 8 years, but has only been at the Chicago school for 3 years. He said he was so struck by the compassion and motivation in the student's writings, that he knew he needed to put the words to music.
"I realized about 70% of the students wrote about issues surrounding diversity, injustice, terrorism, the need to stand up for our beliefs, the need to reach out to those hurting, the need to be strong in our beliefs and ideals," said Mr. Nixon. "I was overwhelmed by this and realized this needed to be the theme of our collective project. I'm so happy that our song is being shared beyond our school and will benefit our global community. It's an incredible opportunity for our students to see their work help others."
Inspired by the Goals & Criteria of Sacred Heart
Founded in 1876 as the Academy of the Sacred Heart for Girls, and in 1935 adding Hardey Preparatory for Boys, Sacred Heart Schools are independent, Catholic elementary schools that serve 700 children in kindergarten through 8th grade. The schools are committed to academic excellence in a diverse and inclusive Christian community.
The essence of this educational vision and tradition is articulated in the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Schools. The five goals and criteria include:
- A personal and active faith in God
- A deep respect for intellectual values
- A social awareness that impels to action
- A building of community as a Christian value
- Personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom
Nat Wilburn, Head of Schools, recognized the importance of this song and the collective work of Mr. Nixon and his Middle School Students, which is why he decided to give the students an opportunity to professionally record and distribute Stand Up. Members of the Glee Club accompanied Mr. Nixon to Uptown Recording, 4656 Clifton Ave in Chicago, to lay down the professional track.
"I'm so proud of this collaboration from our Middle School led by Mr. Nixon," said Wilburn. "This song is a true example of our students living the mission of Sacred Heart – to teach social awareness and impel action. I hope this song inspires others to live this way too."
Stand Up is now available on iTunes, Google Play and other sites for $0.99 and 100% of the proceeds from the song will be donated to Howard Area Community Center, on behalf of the Sacred Heart Schools Chicago. The mission of Howard Area Community Center is to assist low-income individuals and families in the greater Rogers Park and adjacent communities to stabilize their lives and to develop the social skills necessary to become effective community members. In order to accomplish this mission, the agency's programs provide emergency intervention, family stabilization, and promote developmental growth.
About Sacred Heart Schools
Founded in 1876 as the Academy of the Sacred Heart for Girls, and in 1935 adding Hardey Preparatory for Boys, Sacred Heart Schools are independent, Catholic elementary schools that serve 700 children in kindergarten through 8th grade. Rooted in the 200-year history and traditions of the Society of the Sacred Heart and shared with the Network of Sacred Heart Schools located on every major continent, including 24 schools in the United States and Canada, the schools are committed to academic excellence in a diverse and inclusive Christian community.
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SOURCE Sacred Heart Schools Chicago