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Teachers, artists helping students at Lyman Hall to 'Get There'
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Jayne Olderman, left, and James Harris, right, sing "Get There" with students at Lyman Hall Elementary School on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Olderman and Harris wrote the song specifically for the students at Lyman Hall. - photo by Austin Steele

Students at Lyman Hall Elementary are getting a special kind of treatment.

In an upcoming recital, the elementary school’s gifted students will be singing a collection of songs by Georgia artists.

“The kids are so excited because they think that they’re famous,” said Amber Blum, who teaches advanced classes at the school. “They’re just totally excited about it.”

The students gathered in the library Tuesday, May 7, to rehearse the song, “Get There.” The school received a grant from the Georgia Music Foundation to have Dana Rice, who owns a music school in the Hall County area, to come in and teach the children music.

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Students practice singing "Get There," a song written specifically for them, at Lyman Hall Elementary School on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

The music school owner said the program is about hope and showing kids what they can achieve through music.

“They can achieve more than they thought they could,” Rice said. “So we’ve been introducing them to new artists and showing them that things happen right here where you live in Georgia.”

After Rice’s lessons, Blum goes deeper in the classroom.

“I’ll follow up … and connect it to whatever we’re learning and follow through with it that way,” Blum said.

When they talked about Ray Charles, the students found out he was blind — a hindrance that didn’t hold him back from realizing his own talent.

“We talked about disabilities, so music has opened the door to so many different avenues that I’ve been able to enrich and have them relate to and understand,” Blum said.

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James Harris leads students through the song he wrote with Jayne Olderman for the students at Lyman Hall Elementary School on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. - photo by Austin Steele

She wants to give her students as many advantages as she can. Being a Title I school, Blum knows many of the students don't have the opportunities some do at other schools. And being a predominantly latino student body, she knew music was an important part of her students’ cultures, so she wanted to give them opportunities and exposure to music as early as possible.

“They love to dance and that's part of their custom and culture, so we kind of wanted to hone in on something they could relate to,” Blum said. “They don't always have the opportunity to pay for a music class or singing lessons. So if that’s something they want to pursue in middle school and high school, this gives them the opportunity to start early.”

“Get There” has a line saying, “I’m gonna get there ‘cause I can, I’m gonna get there somehow,” which goes along with what Blum and the rest of the teachers at the school are trying to instill in their students. And it’s a song she said has resonated with the students and become one of their favorites.

“They love the song,” Blum said. “It’s very inspiring.”

Armando De Lira, a fifth-grader at the school, said he’s inspired by the song. He’s never sung in front of people before, but he’s not nervous to perform when the big day comes.

“It makes me feel like I can get to anything if I actually really try,” Armando said.

Lyman Hall students sing "Get There"

Students at Lyman Hall Elementary rehearse a song on Tuesday, May 7. "Get There" will be part of a their upcoming recital.
By: Layne Saliba

He wants to be an engineer and work with astronauts when he gets older, so this song will always be in the back of his mind as he tries to make that happen.

Jayne Olderman, a songwriter from the area and an acquaintance of Rice, heard the lyrics for “Get There” pop into her head about 10 years ago. Ever since then, she’s been trying to finish the song.

She teamed up with James “J Donte” Harris, another songwriter in the area, and they finished the song last year before Rice heard it and asked them to work with students at Lyman Hall.

By a few cases of what Olderman called divine intervention, she knew she had to get a few people to help make “Get There” exactly what she envisioned.

She started with her friend Joey Melotti, who played piano for the recording. Then, she got her other friend, Morris "Mo" Pleasure, who played with Earth, Wind & Fire, and asked him to play bass on the track. Pleasure then got Sonny Emory, one of his friends from the same band, to play drums for the song.

Everything sounded great, but it still wasn’t what Olderman wanted. She said a friend called her “out of the blue” and she knew she had to ask him to finish the song for her.

He flew in from Canada, recorded some background vocals and then pieced everything together in his studio back in Canada.

It was finally complete.

“It’s not about the money for me,” Olderman said of her songwriting and producing experience. “Something comes through me and I feel like it's something like divinity where I have to get it to people. This song is to lift people …  I’m here to lift people. That’s my calling.”

Rice said she chose “Get There” as one of the songs for the students to perform because of the message it carries. It’s similar to what she described as her motto for everything.

“Big dreams are kind of my thing for everything I do,” Rice said. “Because I’ve been there. I’ve been (these students). I’ve been the kid that was at home with big ideas and didn’t know how to make it happen. And all you need is a connection, someone to show you the way so you realize you can do these things.”

This report has been updated from its original version.

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James Harris leads students at Lyman Hall Elementary School through a warm up of the song "Get There"on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. The song was written specifically for the students at Lyman Hall by Harris and Jayne Olderman. - photo by Austin Steele
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