For Long Reach High School students, Pomp and Circumstance wasn't the only graduation anthem on their minds last week.
Thanks to a group of five seniors, Long Reach's Class of 2014 had a graduation theme written by their classmates.
"It was a coming-of-age moment, but we know that graduation leads to something bigger and we wanted to really point that out," said D'Ante Colbert, one of the five students involved in writing the rap compilation, "We Here."
In addition to Colbert, the song features Long Reach graduates Nabil Ince, Jocelyn Peña and Nate Lobdell. Fellow graduate Ramsey Carroll served as the track's primary producer.
"They definitely loved it," Ince said of his classmates' reaction to the track. "It's definitely something that has made an impact on them. I've heard nothing but positive things for the song."
Ince was approached with the idea by Long Reach Class of 2014 sponsor Mary Anne Emery and school counselor Brett Moore.
After seeing Ince's winning performance in the school talent show, "Long Reach has Talent," Emery and Moore approached Ince about performing during the school's senior awards ceremony.
"They basically gave free creative license to do whatever," Ince said.
Emery and Moore said the only guideline was to keep it school-appropriate. From there, he recruited friends he knew who were musically talented.
Ince said he had thought about dedicating a song to the Class of 2014, but said their encouragement really opened the doors for the project.
"I feel that we're a special class, and I really wanted to make things more special for us," he said. "A class anthem is really something that I haven't seen too many of."
Students kept their work a secret until Ince checked in with Moore about a month later and let her listen to what they had come up with.
"I was like, 'Are you serious? This is awesome,' " Moore said of her reaction to first hearing the song.
A 'gratifying experience'
The group debuted the song May 23 with a live performance at the senior awards ceremony before the audience erupted in applause, Emery said.
"The feeling at the end of performance, when everybody just started standing up and cheering, it was just a great feeling," Lobdell said.
Since then, Peña said people have not stopped asking about where they can find the track.
"The really loved it, they were like, 'It's perfect for senior year,' " she said.
Students said the song is not just for Long Reach, but for the entire class of 2014.
For Lobdell, the song represents all races, ethnicities, and social classes.
"It just stresses that we wanted unity for the entire class," he said. "It's just a moment where we all come together and celebrate as one."
The Long Reach graduates, who live in Columbia, did the work on the track outside of school.
Everyone involved in the project has written or performed music individually, but never together as group.
Students who appear on the track, which is everyone but Ramsey, wrote their own verse.
"Everybody there just worked really hard," Colbert said. "You could really feel the inspiration coming from everybody."
Ince said his classmates' response to the song has been a confirmation that people are enjoying it and the group has talent.
"To be able to make something, to use our gifts to make a song for our classmates is just gratifying and also humbling to know that the talent and the song is legit," he said.
In addition to the "We Here" track, Ince recently finished up his first mixtape "College Bound."
With graduation behind them, all five graduates are heading in their own direction.
Ince will be attending Covenant College in Georgia, but is undeclared on a major, although he would like to do something musically.
Peña will be attending Howard Community College this fall and Lobdell plans to attend the University of Maryland, where he will study government and politics. Colbert will be attending Drexel University to study music, although more on the business aspect of the profession, and Ramsey will be studying recording arts at the University of Colorado.
"As long as the inspiration comes, I'll probably never stop making good music," Ince said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun