JANESVILLE

Jackson Elementary School’s “Tiger Truths” are universal: Be respectful, be responsible and be safe.

Those truths aren’t immediately obvious to elementary school kids.

Rock University High School student Xavier Braker transformed those truths for students this week, reducing them to their essence through music and poetry. As a side benefit, the truths are now more danceable, too.

The musical collaboration came about by happy accident.

Larry Dunmore drives the bus that 16-year-old Braker takes to school. The driver and the student got to talking one day, and Braker shared his desire to be a musician. Dunmore asked for a sample of his work, and Braker created a rap right off the top of his head.

Dunmore was amazed.

Dunmore’s wife, Andrea Dunmore, teaches third grade at Jackson. When she heard the story and the rap, she immediately recruited Braker to create a rap about the “Tiger Truths,” the rules that make up the school’s behavioral code.

She also asked him to create a rap about baseball player Roberto Clemente.

“I gave him the eight vocabulary words that were part of a lesson,” Andrea Dunmore said.

How did it go?

“They loved it,” Dunmore said. “They loved him.”

Two days later, Braker came back so school staff could film him rapping with the kids. In those 48 hours, he had become an even bigger celebrity.

Kids swarmed around him when he came into the library. He got spontaneous hugs, sometimes two or three at once.

But the rap was the thing.

Here are a few of the ways Braker translated “Be respectful, be responsible and be safe”:

  • “Be respectful; take notice of what you do; you treat ’em like that, you’ll get treated like that, too.
  • “You gotta have positive talk and a confident walk; keep an eye out like you are a hawk.
  • “You gotta say thank you when you’re getting and you’re welcome you’re giving; that’s just positive living; this is good, I have proof ’cause I’m living by the ‘Tiger Truths.’
  • “Gotta get your work done and be responsible, better than the rest, ’cause the Jackson Tigers are the best; some of the best kids and the best school ’cause doing what’s right will actually make you cool.”

The kids joined him on the chorus. Second-grader Julian Sierra, 7, was a big fan.

“I created some beats for you on my computer,” Julian told Braker shyly.

Braker’s thanks made Julian face light up.

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