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Roanoke high school must change fight song or get sued

Published On: Dec 24 2013 05:51:15 AM EST   Updated On: Sep 07 2013 12:00:00 AM EDT

William Fleming High School looking for new school fight song


While the main draw is the football, part of the allure on fall Friday nights are the traditions.

One Roanoke High School is being forced to change one of its traditions.

Why? They could get sued.

The William Fleming High School fight song is a staple of any home game.

The man who arranged it is no longer at William Fleming and he had one message for the school: Don't play the song.

As the years have gone by, a different William Fleming Band has marched to the same beat.

Before Fleming's first home game tonight, Principal Archie Freeman said the band needs to find a different beat.

"This evening you will not hear the Fleming fight song," he said.

The former band director copyrighted the arrangement nearly 20 years ago.

School leaders asked him for permission to play the song and whether he'd consider selling the copyright, he said no, so Superintendent Rita Bishop did too.

"It wasn't worth it to me to in any way compromise the district, so we just made a decision," Bishop said.

After the principal's announcement, there was no audible gasp of shock or disappointment, but reactions were mixed.

"This is the first I heard of it so it took me by surprise that somebody, you know, it's Flemings fight song, now we gotta come up with a new one," said William Fleming parent Rodney Hairston.

So now: Fleming begins the search for a new fight song, and its accepting applications.

People can submit compositions for the next two weeks.

While changing songs is frustrating for some, many are viewing it as a new start; an opportunity to re-write what will be heard on Fall Fridays at Fleming for, well, forever.

"Nothing would thrill me more than to have that arranged by a William Fleming student," said Rita Bishop.

When push comes to shove, a fight song is just a song and all this band wants to do is keep on marching, regardless of the beat.

We couldn't get in touch with the former band director to find out why he didn't want to at least sell the copyright.   

As for the contest, the school is accepting songs for the next two weeks, and hopes to unveil the new one at its homecoming game on October 4.