New school principals bring along more than just new rules: they bring fresh culture.

To Mr. Martin, Sweet Home High School’s new principal, culture is more than just a word. “We’re trying to build a culture that is a little bit different than a typical school day,” Mr. Martin says. “What you want to have are things in place that ease tensions. You don’t want a stressful atmosphere. You don’t want people worried about the wrong things.”

Mr. Martin believes music can help relieve these daily tensions. In November, he launched an experimental program to play music over the PA system in the morning. Mr. Martin recruited sophomore Chris Day to help out. Chris is responsible for gathering song requests from both teachers and students and compiling them using iTunes. The music is then played from a laptop in the Main Office.

“Music definitely helps to wake you up in the morning,” Chris says. “I feel more obligated to do stuff when I have music. I think it’s a good idea to get people up and ready in the morning.”

Mr. Martin understands there are pitfalls, as well. “Any time you make a decision to do something like this you have to think about what are the ramifications, you have to think about what could possibly go wrong, and you have to think about who’s going to be looking for something to go wrong.”

So far, the two most expected malfunctions have occurred. Music has not been played some of the mornings. Explicit versions of songs have played. “Then you get into this debate about whether or not music that needs a clean version should even be music that we consider,” Mr. Martin says.

Mr. Martin envisions music possibly playing a larger role in the future: it could replace dismissal bells. Music could play for three minutes, then when it shuts off, kids would have one minute to get to class. Mr. Martin is open to experimenting with such ideas at a later time.

“There are very few things in life that are commonalities that bring people together,” Mr. Martin says. “Maybe none more so than music.”

Co-Written by Mr. Doherty, Chukwudi Ilozue, and Joey Bastian

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