School bands, orchestras and choirs around the country are proudly performing the Oxford High School fight song as an ode to the community.
Over 80 videos have been posted on social media over the last two weeks showing bands, orchestras and choirs from Michigan, to New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and more performing the Oxford fight song after quickly learning it to show their support for the Oxford school community.
The fight song videos are just one way the music staff at Oxford High School is working to support students in the aftermath of the tragic shooting. Jim Gibbons, the band director of the high school for 24 years, and Brad Schmaltz band director of the middle school, shared the music for the fight song after being contacted by a band director who wanted to express love and support but didn’t quite know how.
“I get emotional every time I hear one,” Gibbons said. “This is a very busy time in the band world because they’re working on their holiday concerts. But they’ve taken time out of that to learn our fight song and play it for us, as well as their own communities. It’s just overwhelming for us.”
Oxford High School student Somer Lach stitched together portions of many of the videos sent in to create one full Oxford fight song video. “Many different bands, many different styles, and many different places. All of them playing the same piece of music. All having the same drive. All having the same fight. No matter where us band kids are or how old we are or how experienced we are, we can always come together to create something beautiful like this in a time of need and tragedy,” Somer said.
The Oxford fight song is unique. Written in 1944 by an Oxford High School student, it is an original song that does not mirror a college or university fight song as many high school fight songs do. The song is part of the Oxford Community Schools community, history and identity, and serves as the last bell of the school day. (We went to the Oxford Leader archives and found who that student was. That part of the story is below.)
“The videos have been so beautiful to see,” said Marissa Weller, orchestra director at Oxford High School. “All of these different bands, styles, and places playing the same piece of music, joining in our same fight, is extremely heartening. It’s a reminder that we can come together to create something beautiful in a time of need and tragedy.”
While Oxford Community Schools are providing continuing trauma resources to all students, the band and orchestra staff at Oxford High School are also working to ensure music students can continue their healing journeys throughout the winter break if they are going out of town.
Weller said as so many people have reached out asking how to help music students at Oxford, she created an Amazon wish list full of resources for her students, like coloring books, journals, Lego sets and more.
In the last handful of days, over 500 packages have been delivered for students with items from the wish list. At an event this week, students will collect the items they want and be able to complete crafts together.
“Our aim is to allow students to process their trauma even if they are out of town and we can’t all be together, to remind them of their music family at Oxford,” Weller said. “The music and band classrooms are a little different; it’s a very collaborative community, and a lot of these students have been in the same classes together for years. You can feel the bond. To see that extend to other programs across the state and country has been overwhelming. Our community has bonded in such an unbelievable way.”
Additionally, Marshall Music Co. which supplies and repairs Oxford Community Schools’ instruments for students, has posted a wish list on its website for anyone interested. Supplies purchased will be donated to students.
A little history on The Blue and Gold fight song
We went back into the archives, way back to 1944 and then to 2012 editions of the Oxford Leader. Here’s what we found.
— Don Rush
May 5, 1944
Writes New Song
Oxford High School has a new and official school song. Music and words to the number which has been entitled, “The Blue and Gold Fight Song” were composed by Martin Kozak, high school senior and Student Conductor of the Band.
At a school vote taken last week a ballot of 300 to 5 was cast by the student body in favor of adopting this new tune as the official school song. At the meeting of the Board of Education last Tuesday evening final action was taken and “The Blue and Gold Fight Song” now becomes Oxford’s new and official school song.
For a number of years the school song had been borrowed from the University of Michigan’s “Varsity.”
The school takes great pride in the creation of this new song which is the property of the local school, and not borrowed property.
Much credit goes to Martin Kozak for this contribution. It will be a lasting evidence of the affection and pride he holds for his high school “Alma Mater.” The first public performance of the number will be given at the Annual Spring Band Concert next Tuesday evening May 9.
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According to a Jan. 25, 2012 Oxford Leader story, Kozak’s actual last name was Kozachik. The family, which used to own Kozak City Bakery in downtown Oxford, changed its last name for business purposes.
Kozak went on to serve in World War II. Afterwards, he received his medical degree from the University of Michigan and practiced family medicine in Portland, Michigan until his death on May 10, 1992 at the age of 65. (And, we went by the original spelling of the family name, Kozachik.)
In the late 1970s, Kozak’s nephew, Michael Kozachik, who became the OHS band director, changed the fight song’s arrangement, so it could be played by a marching band as opposed to a concert band.