Inside WITS- Greatest WITS Volume 1

By: Sara Martinez, Program Coordinator

In celebration of students going back to school this month, we asked the WITS staff for a favorite song that represents their first days back at school.  Listen to the playlist.

“Party Like A Rockstar” by Shop Boyz
“My back to school song is Shop Boyz “Party Like A Rockstar.” It was one of the most popular songs during the year I graduated from eighth grade and went into my freshman year of high school. It was–and still is–a very hype song that my friends and I would listen to during our video gaming sessions and before football games, basketball games, and track meets.”

– Nicholas Colbert, Program Coordinator



“Two Princes” by the Spin Doctors
“[This song] is an early 90’s anthem and the subject of one of my oldest memories from elementary school. In first grade, during a show-and-tell type activity, a classmate brought in a CD and played this track for the class. The entire class was allowed to jump around and dance to the song a couple of times through. This experience helped me realize that going to school is fun.”

– Eric Coleman, Development and Communications Manager



“Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z ft. Alicia Keys
“This song was popular when I was a freshman in high school, but it later made a comeback for me in college when I wrote a paper for a class on the role of visual aids in spoken communication. I mentioned this song in my paper because it has a funny mondegreen, or phrase that people incorrectly interpret as another phrase, in it. The lyric, ‘concrete jungle where dreams are made of,’ is more likely to be misheard as something like ‘concrete jungle red dream tomato’ during the part of the music video when Alicia Keys is surrounded by a red staircase, but people are more likely to hear the lyric correctly when the music video is in black and white. Now whenever I hear that song I think of school!”

– Eleanor Dollear, Program Coordinator


“All Star” – Smash Mouth
“As a first grader, Smash Mouth’s 1999 chart-topper, All Star was Kevin Hujar’s short-lived back to school anthem. Every other morning, VH1’s Top 20 Video Countdown would be playing on television as he was getting ready for school, and the anthem would naturally be playing too. The lyrics, ‘Hey now, you’re an all-star, get your game on, go play’ spoke volumes to him. ‘You got this, Kevin. Keep brushing up on those writing skills, you too can be a cursive-all-star’ because ‘all that glitters is gold, only shooting stars break the mold’.”

– Kevin Hujar, Program Specialist


“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – Simple Minds

“Having been raised on a steady diet of John Hughes movies, Simple Minds’ Don’t You (Forget About Me) is the ultimate first day, last day, and Saturday detention song. In the simplest terms, it transcends time and appeals to everyone, whether you’re a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, or a criminal.”

– Annie Kennedy, Community Manager



Scarlet Begonias” by the Grateful Dead
“[This song] reminds me of being picked up by my friend in her Volkswagen convertible and driving to school with the top down listening to The Dead. There are a lot of lyrics in the song that make me think of Fall but I like [these the] best:

‘The sky was yellow and the sun was blue,/
Strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand,/
Everybody’s playing in the heart of gold band, heart of gold band.
Not a chill to the winter but a nip to the air,/
From the other direction she was calling my eye,/
Could be an illusion but I might as well try, might as well try’.”

-Tena Kunik, Chief Strategy Officer


“All Fired Up” by Pat Benatar
“My growing up soundtrack is compiled of cool female rockers and pop stars and this is one of the best jams!”

-Brenda Langstraat, Chief Executive Officer




“Unwritten” – Natasha Bedingfield
This song was one of the songs I played over and over again as a kid, and it reminds me of that feeling on the night before the first day of school where you feel like anything can happen that year. My favorite lyric from this song is, ‘Live your life with arms wide open / Today is where your book begins / The rest is still unwritten’.”

-Ana Porta, Program Coordinator



“What I Got” by Sublime and “Twist” by Xavier Rudd
“I have a crystal-clear memory of playing “What I Got” (LOUD) while pulling away from my house, driving to school on the last first day of high school. I was bold; I was terrified. I was ready; I had no idea. I sang my heart out; I prayed.”

“[Twist] was the song that played every morning at 9:02 to tell my students to come to the rug for Morning Meeting. We would sit, sing, and share of ourselves to start the day. I love this song to mark this occasion – the start of a new school day – because it’s spot on: calm, focused, engaging, and full of warm energy; exactly what teachers hope from every class.”

-Mia Valdez Quellhorst, Director of Teacher Programs



“Optimistic” by Sounds of Blackness
“I chose this song because a new school year means new challenges but being optimistic about whatever is ahead helps alleviate those fears. My favorite lyrics are, ‘As long as you keep your head to the sky/You can win/Be optimistic’.”

-Tra’Lisha Renteria, Program Specialist



“Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band
“To me, the lyrics are optimistic, my favorites are:

‘I want to fly like an eagle, to the sea/
Fly like an eagle/
Let my spirit carry me/
I want to fly (oh, yeah)/
Fly right into the future.’

The first days and weeks of school were always filled with such possibility and hope for a positive outcome. New projects are the same way. Also, I love eagles.”

-Daphne Robinson, Program and Operations Manager


 Listen to the playlist.