- Sponsorship -

Godfrey-Lee School Band awarded $14,000 in Instruments

When it comes to finding funds for the Godfrey-Lee Middle and High School Band, Director Kevin Gabrielse “Mr. G” and the Lee Rebel Band Boosters are simply miracle workers.

In the last 10 years, they’ve done publicity campaigns to acquire instruments, pie fundraisers for students to go to band camp, rallied to reinstate programs being slashed due to budget cuts and dug deep into their own pockets to keep the program running.

This year, they’ve done it again, securing nearly $14,000 in instruments from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and the Hatfield Family Foundation.   The donation includes three euphoniums, two alto saxophones and two bass clarinets.  Gabrielse estimated the band needs about $60,000 for new instruments and repairs.

Inspired by the motion picture Mr. Holland’s Opus, the story of a dedicated music teacher and the effect he had on generations of students, the film’s composer, Michael Kamen, started the foundation in 1996 to promote music education around the world.

“Learning music in school is a way to engage kids and give them something that makes them better students and better people,”said Felice Mancini, executive director of The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation in a news release. “They deserve every tool available to help them receive a quality education, and we want to insure that music is in that toolbox.”

Finding money for music difficult as state cuts funding

That’s a message that resonates with Gabrielse, who is still trying to raise funds to repair instruments that were donated to the band eight years ago.  As school funding has decreased in the past years, so have music and arts programs around the country.

“Music programs are being cut because they are not a priority,” he said. “We need to work together to make it a priority or we’re going to lose a whole generation of musicians.”

Superintendent David Britten said the donation couldn’t come at a better time. “Given the continuing budget cuts for public education coming out of Lansing, this is a very timely and appreciated award,”he said. “Our award-winning band program is one of our points of pride at Godfrey-Lee and this will certainly help the program continue to serve the interests of our students.”

“I see it as a huge boost to the instrumental music program. Newer, functioning instruments are essential to any quality band program,” said Cheryl Slaughter, the President of the Lee Rebel Band Boosters and the parent of three High School Band members.

She worked side by side with Gabrielse to secure the donation, and had to submit a very detailed application proving the program to be a worthwhile investment for the organization.

 Learning for fun and growth

In a school where more than 80 percent of the students receive free and reduced lunch, asking families to pay for reeds and valve oil, let alone instrument repairs or rentals, is about impossible, Gabrielse said, noting it can cost $55 a month to rent some of the instruments.  “I’m sure some of our parents would prefer to spend that putting food on the table.”

As she practiced with the band, made up of students from fifth through twelfth grade, before an upcoming concert, Desirae Fenton had no problem explaining why band is important to her.  “It’s something fun to do,” she said, letting her clarinet rest on her lap. “And learning how to play music is fun and will also help you in life.”

Jesus Sanchez said he has always been interested in music and has been with the band for the last three years. Plus, he said, he gets a kick out of it. “Mr. G, the band director, he’s funny and makes music seem easy,” he said. “It’s fun.”

While playing might be fun for students, research shows it also has a big impact in the development of their brains, enhancing abilities such as language, memory and causing the brain to make new connections.”

Participation in band at Lee Middle and High School produces students who are connected, disciplined and generally on track academically,” said Slaughter.  She added that school administrators, parents, boosters and Gabrielse have a reputation in the local music community for overcoming obstacles to produce quality musicians and deliver top-notch performances.

“Just because there is not a lot of money in the school community does not mean there is not a tremendous amount of support and enthusiasm,” she said.

CONNECT

Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation

 

- Sponsorship -

LATEST ARTICLES

Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

‘This time it is continued learning’

One school’s switch from in-person to virtual education last week was nearly seamless, especially when compared with the forced school closure in March...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Satellite library aims to boost reading for the fun of it

The Kent District Library location opened this week, and is exclusively for East Lee Campus students and their families...

Voters approve bond request by 2-to-1 margin

The approval of the $17.79 million bond will restore and renovate Lee Middle and High School, which was badly damaged by a June 2019 roof collapse...

District bond request Nov. 3 includes upgrades, additions and community wellness & resource center

Godfrey-Lee Public Schools is asking voters to approve a 30-year, $17.79 million bond proposal to fund major reconstruction, additions and improvements to Lee Middle and High School...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS