RAYMORE-PECULIAR, Mo. — For decades, Raymore-Peculiar High School hasn't had a school alma mater.
Music Director Stephen Rew decided to change that. He is a Ray-Pec graduate and now teaches at the high school.
"We always say, 'Once a Panther, always a Panther,'" Rew said. "I just found it to be true."
While studying music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, he realized his former high school was an outlier, since most high schools have a school song.
When classmates from Lee's Summit, Liberty and Blue Springs broke out singing their school alma mater, it left Rew baffled.
"All these different schools and I was like, 'Well, I don't think Ray-Pec has one,'" he said.
Rew was right.
"We just never had one," Ray-Pec senior Robbie Keays said. "I mean, we have a fight song."
But a fight song traditionally is affiliated with athletic teams. An alma mater is different.
"I didn't know what an alma mater was," fellow Panthers senior Jill Humke said.
Rew made it his mission to write Ray-Pec a song.
"I just set out this summer and wrote it," he said.
The theme he picked was home. His choir students were the first to hear it then learn it.
Now, it's helping foster school spirit and unity.
"It's really important, because there (are) a lot of that come from different backgrounds and different points of life and all of these different things," Humke said. "It's just really cool to have a song that's not a chant."
Rew's choir performed the new alma mater in front of the school to rave reviews.
Some might see the song as Rew's lasting legacy, but he sings a different tune about his contribution to Ray-Pec.
"A piece of paper with my name on it that I wrote this song, people will forget that," Rew said. "But the kids that I get to effect every day is the legacy, that they could go out and live their best lives."