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Seniors Josh Velazco & Mary Hollis Taylor pen a song for the Class of 2021

Graduation songs have almost become as synonymous with the end of high school as commencement itself. For years, seniors have created slideshows and pieced together videos to popular songs like Green Day's "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)," but Josh Velazco and Mary Hollis Taylor thought the Gibbons Class of 2021 deserved something special. 

Mary Hollis Taylor and Josh Velazco pose for a photo.

The seniors decided they would write their own song during a planning meeting for Senior Sunset. Josh was so pumped about the idea, he went straight home and penned the music. In a mere 40 minutes, he had the composition and melody down on paper. 

"I was just strumming chords trying to figure out what I wanted the song to feel like," Josh said. "I wanted it to feel like an early 2000's nostalgic rock song."

Once the music was complete, Mary Hollis had about a month to write the lyrics. 

"I could not believe how quickly (Josh) not only wrote the music, but also recorded all of the instruments, including guitar, drums, and bass," she said. I knew he was good, but when I listened to it, I was overwhelmed with excitement."

When a bout of writer's block struck, Mary Hollis came up with a solution that made the song even more memorable. 

"I really wanted to make sure that this was a song for the whole class ... so I created a Google form and asked, 'If you had to say one thing to your classmates, what would it be?'" she said. 

The answers she received inspired her writing process so much she even includes a few of her favorite responses — "slow down and make memories," for example — as part of the chorus. 

"Lyrically, we were talking about how we grew up together these four years and how we're going our separate ways while never forgetting what we accomplished together," Josh said. 

The pair were happy with the finished project, which they called "Time to Be." 

"We wanted to make something very upbeat and easy to listen to, but something that would also make our listeners emotional," Mary Hollis said. "My favorite line is 'cause the legacy we built together will never die.'"

Both avid musicians, Josh and Mary Hollis have collaborated on several performances before, but this was the first time they tried their hand a writing a song together. 

Josh has taken percussion all four years here at Gibbons and led the drumline as captain for the past two years. He's a member of the jazz club, guitar club, and pit orchestra. Josh is also active in Music Ministry, Coffee House, Student Council, and the Gibbons Leadership Community. 

He's heading to Appalachian State University, where he'll major in recording and producing.

Mary Hollis has been a member of the pep band, National Honor Society, Franciscan Youth International ministry group, and basketball team. She's also involved in Coffee House and retreats. 

She'll move to Steubenville, Ohio this fall to pursue a double major in theology and Catechetics at Franciscan University, where she'll also play basketball. 

Listen to "Time to Be"


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