Return to Headlines

Spring Creek Elementary Alma Mater


Spring Creek Elementary Principal Paul Brigman recently gave a special dedication for a historic moment.


Before him sat students filling the gym, gathered for an assembly to debut the new Spring Creek alma mater he composed with music teacher Melanie Komlenic.


“Believe it or not, many, many years ago, when I was in elementary school, just like you, my music teacher taught me to love music and want to sing songs and play instruments, and it was there that I started my journey to become a musician, and then a teacher, counselor and a principal,” Brigman said while introducing the alma mater. “And it all started when I was sitting in an auditorium like this singing songs that were led by my music teacher at Ferguson Township Elementary. Mrs. Corl is sitting right over there. Thank you for giving the gift of music to so many children over so many years, and teaching Mrs. Komlenic to be a music teacher too. So I would like to officially dedicate this song to my music teacher, Mrs. Corl.”


Then, as Theodora Corl looked on smiling, Komlenic proceeded to accompany the inaugural performance. As Brigman listened, the alma mater’s unveiling brought him full circle with his musical roots and capped a year-long collaboration with Komlenic.


Under Corl’s tutelage at FTE, he developed a love for music that carried him through junior high school, State High and Penn State. After college, he pursued playing professionally on the side while he became an educator. He learned to play bluegrass and Americana music while also playing in rock bands. “That was a huge part of my life as a young adult,” he said. 


When he joined the district as a high school counselor, he became friends with Leah Mueller, then a Delta Program music teacher. Mueller taught a songwriting class and invited Brigman to talk about creating original music. The experience led him to think of how writing an alma mater could be a fun activity to teach young musicians about songwriting.


“Alma maters are such a unique type of song,” he said. “They all have sort of a common flavor to them. They tend to be simple songs. They have a melody that’s catchy and familiar. There’s a repetitious quality to them, so that they’re easy to learn.”


His idea never made it to Mueller’s class, but it stuck with him as he became an administrator at Park Forest Middle School and then, starting last year, Spring Creek. There already was a school song, “We Are the Hawks,” written by teacher Steve Garbrick and Komlenic, but Brigman thought a formal alma mater, like he remembered in high school and college, would provide another connective bond in the school community.


So he began writing lyrics and thinking of melodies, then enlisted Komlenic’s help with fleshing out the arrangement. “She really brought the song to life and wrote out all the sheet music for it, helped me navigate making it our own while still having the flavor of alma maters,” Brigman said. “It was very much a partnership.”


Last year, Komlenic began teaching the alma mater, starting with the older grades. Practicing continued this fall right up to the assembly. Afterward, Corl, who retired in 2013 after 39 years in the district that included mentoring Komlenic, said it meant “everything” to her to attend.


“It’s so great at my ripe old age that I can look back on the 39 years of teaching with happiness,” she said. “To be here for this event is wonderful. Things like this are so meaningful for a teacher. It’s all I can do to not cry.”


With Mueller also in attendance, Brigman gave a bonus solo performance, belting out an acoustic guitar rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” the result of a promise he made as an incentive during a school fundraising dance. But for him, the highlight of the afternoon was all of his students literally in harmony.


“I’m so thankful for the desire of everyone to want to come together to create a thing that’s unique and true to this school as we create our new identity,” he said, referencing the former Lemont and Houserville schools becoming Spring Creek. “This drive to create our identity has been touching, just the passion and talent of the teachers and students driving this, especially Melanie. She’s put so much heart into bringing this to life. I just feel blessed. I feel like I’ve been given a gift.”


By Chris Rosenblum

Video by Nabil K. Mark

Published Nov. 9, 2023


Spring Creek Elementary Alma Mater


Come all and sing the song we honor

Sacred and true are thee

We are the Hawks of Happy Valley

Dear old Spring Creek are we


As we did leave our childhood garden

We entered your walls so brave

Trust in our hearts we gave before you

Knowledge in turn we’ve gained


*Hail to our school, our Alma Mater

Hail to our dear old family

May you provide our strength to prosper

Spring Creek Elementary 


Love is the gift within your Eyrie

Caring for one and all

Now that our wings have spread we’re flying

Over the mountains tall 


May all our hearts be joined together

May all our dreams come true

Let no obstruction guard our future 

May Spring Creek see me through 


*Hail to our school, our Alma Mater

Hail to our dear old family

May you provide our strength to prosper

Spring Creek Elementary