With two generous new donors offering a match-grant for all donations made to the Hillsdale Community Schools band instrument fund through the Hillsdale County Community Foundation, more and more awareness of the program has echoed through the local community in the past month.
The band instrument fund was set up with the assistance of Hillsdale Community Schools Superintendent Shawn Vondra, Band Director Keith Rushing, and alumnus Richard Eckert. It exists to aid students in attaining instruments as the band program continues its rapid growth.
Eckert, who graduated from Hillsdale High School in 1962, was active in concert band, marching and pep band, and brass ensemble during his time in school. Because of this past personal involvement, Eckert said he believes that “participating in musical organizations provides positive and worthwhile experiences that last a lifetime.” His experience ultimately led to his suggestion to Rushing of starting a fund through the Hillsdale County Community Foundation to receive donations for the program.
Rushing, who has worked for the school district since 1999, says that the band program has been “a real blessing” for students, particularly those attending Davis Middle School.
“At this point, twenty instruments have been purchased and are in use. We still need more instruments, as several students are not able to participate each year due to the expense of instruments,” Rushing said.
He also said that high school students helping with younger kids has been very beneficial for the program.
“I have been happy to have Chloe Deck, a senior at HHS, help with the Davis Bands for the last two years,” Rushing said. “The students at Davis have really enjoyed learning from Chloe.”
Deck, who has played in several ensembles at Hillsdale College for the last three years and will be going into the United States Marine Corps next year as a clarinet player, is consistently involved in the program and is evidently passionate about music and her role in the band.
“The band program is important because it allows kids to express themselves through music. Most students have a lot of emotions and cannot express themselves in a positive manner. Fortunately through music the kids are able to take that emotion and play something beautiful; they can express how they feel,” Deck said. “Band is also important because it teaches students another language. Music is not just notes on a page, it’s how we feel and any musician from here to anywhere in the world, we all speak one common language — music.”
Deck was instrumental in the creation of the band instrument fund for a program that she holds to be not only important, but also unique.
“Our program here at Hillsdale Community Schools is unique because we have students from very diverse backgrounds who come together every single day to make music. Everyone in band is accepting of one another and nobody is left out. We encourage students to join band and we do our best to not turn away students who wish to join. The band instrument fund through the Hillsdale Community Foundation helps raise funds for instruments. We use these funds to repair and refurbish instruments so they are playable for prospective and current students,” Deck said.
Samuel Webb, another Hillsdale High School senior and current drum captain for the band also said the program was powerful.
“I think the reason our program has grown in recent years is because of the amount of fun others have in band. Every year band camp comes around, everyone is really excited, even if it means three hours of marching. It’s a fun class. People hear that you can have fun in school and they’ll join the class.”
Donors will match the grant up to $5,000 with the match-grant offer ending on March 31st. Donate online at abouthccf.org by selecting “Hillsdale Band Instrument Fund” or by check, to be sent to the Hillsdale County Community Foundation, P.O. box 276, with an indication of “Hillsdale Band Instrument Fund” on the memo line.