Friday, October 12, 2018

A Window Above: Eastside High School Alma Mater

Song: "Eastside High School Alma Mater"
Writer: Catherine Peragallo Miller
Original Release: March 3, 1989
Film: Lean on Me
Original Performers: Michael Best, Kenneth Kelly, Dwayne Jones, Anthony Fuller and Steven Capers, Jr., all credited in the film as "Songbirds", along with Jermaine Hopkins who played the part of Thomas Sams

As magical musical moments in film go, this one ranks high.  Context for anyone who hasn't seen the movie: Lean on Me is based on the true story of Joe Louis Clark, a hard-nosed principal who cleaned up an inner city high school in Paterson, New Jersey.  Among his many commandments, he ordered that every student be taught the school song.  Please watch the scene all the way to the end.  Those of you who know what I do for a living will understand why.

Chorus teacher life win!  Gets me every time.

For Hopkins, the movie was his acting debut.  His mother brought him to the open audition.  The rest of the Songbirds, brought together by the film, formed the vocal group Riff afterwards.  Three of them eventually left to join Men of Vizion.

A couple bonus clips below, the first because it includes a part of the song I'd never heard before and the other because it includes all of the original cast members, 25 years later:

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?


  1. I've never seen that but, after the clip, I may have to watch it.

  2. I've not seen this film but I may have to now! Thanks :)

  3. It was a good film and thanks for what you do!

  4. I recently interviewed Catherine Miller,who is a 1947 graduate of Eastside High School for a book I am collaborating on. Fun fact, she wrote the song when she was 16 years old.

    1. By the way...I am a 1987 graduate of Paterson Eastside.

    2. Develynique, I am so grateful you found my humble little post. Thank you for sharing your personal connection. I needed to be reminded of this song, this scene, this movie. Teaching's rough these days. Messages of hope are important.

      No kidding, you made my day. Thank you.