Front View of Thomas House

Ward-Thomas Museum

Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

Five images of buildings and grounds

Niles McKinley Alma Mater

Ward — Thomas Museum
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503 Brown Street Niles, Ohio 44446

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Niles McKinley Alma Mater

Jo Ann McGuirk wrote songs and poems for her own amusement. During her sophomore year of 1942 at Niles High School, she entered the school contest and her lyrics were chosen for the high school Alma Mater by Noble Cain. Noble Cain was a nationally-known musical arranger who wrote the music to accompany Jo Ann's lyrics.

Jo Ann also had one of her poems published by the Ohio State poetry Committee. She graduated in 1944 and went on to become a registered nurse. Jo Ann's mother, Violet Stein McGuirk, raised nine children: Jo Ann, Eileen, Marilyn, Raymond, Maureen, Barbara, Karen, Brian and Michele.

The Alma Mater was copywrited in 1942 by Arnold Compana who was the Niles band director. The song has two verses and is shown with the front cover below.

Front cover of Niles Alma Mater.
Two verses of McKinley Alma Mater

Niles High School Band in 1942 with the football stadium in the background.

Niles High School Band in 1942 with the football stadium in the background.

The stadium, built in 1934 was a WPA government project to provide work during the Great Depression.


Noble Cain (1896 – 1977) was a well known composer. His best known composition was “Chillun, Come on Home”. He earned international recognition during his years as Director of the Chicago Acappella Choir.

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