Participation and costs are up for JA music programs

(Posted Oct. 12, 2016)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

Lucas Gutierrez, president of the Jonathan Alder Music Boosters, had some good news for the school board, and some not so good.

The good news is that the number of students in music programs is increasing.

For the 2014-15 school year, 249 students at all levels were in band. That rose to 322 the next year and to 372 this year. Gutierrez said he anticipates 461 next year. Likewise for the choral program, 427 students participated in the 2014-15 school year, 542 in the next year, 560 this year, and 600 students are anticipated for next year.

The not-so-good news is the cost of providing instruments for students and outfitting them.

“We have to be creative in fund raising,” he told the board at its Oct. 10 meeting.

Outside of the funds raised at school performances, the music boosters raise money by selling concessions on the visitors’ side of the football field.

“We’ve been playing small schools, and they don’t travel much,” he said.

However, the visiting band is treated well. He explained that after the halftime show, “We feed (each band member) one hot dog, chips and a bottle of water. And the two bands mingle.”

But the big costs are the instruments and uniforms. Gutierrez, a tuba player himself, said he started playing the tuba in sixth grade.

“Here, students don’t start on the tuba until the ninth grade,” he said. “And the cost of a big shiny silver sousaphone is $600. A bassoon is being rented from another district.”

With the increased number of students in band, “We’re running 40 uniforms short,” he said, explaining that a uniform costs $700 and takes seven months to get after being ordering. The boosters recently purchased 10 uniforms, risers for the choir and gave six $500 scholarships.

At Canaan Middle School, students have outgrown the band room and have taken over the dining area after moving the tables out of the way.

Gutierrez said the music boosters need to be creative in their fund-raising and seek corporate donations.

Athletic Boosters report

Melissa Pollom, athletic boosters president, said the club raised $68,000 this past year and used much for it for athletic equipment, including play clocks for football, batting cages and wind screens for baseball and softball, and power racks, benches, and maintenance and safety inspections for the weight room.

Th boosters also provide team meals, pay tournament entry fees and practice facility fees, and give four $500 scholarships each year.

The bulk of their funds come from the annual Booster Bash (scheduled for March 10), concession stands, and direct team donations. Funds are also derived from the fall sports programs, spirit sales and membership fees.

The season pass program, initiated this fall, brought in $3,000, Pollom said. The boosters are evaluating the program successes and opportunities to determine if it will continue. Meanwhile, winter sports season passes are now available.

Teachers Professional Day

A Professional Day for teachers falls during America’s Safe Schools Week, Oct. 16-22. Teachers and staff will participate in a safety training program led by Plain City Police Officer Gary Sigrist with assistance from first responders from the police department, Madison County Sheriff’s Office and Pleasant Valley Fire Department.

The training includes review of emergency plans, tips on how to respond to threats, review of emergency scenarios through tabletop exercises, and an active shooter simulation.

“We are grateful for the collaborative efforts of our local fire responders in providing our teachers and staff ongoing planning, training and the latest research in order to keep our students and schools safe,” said Superintendent Gary Chapman.

Gaga Pit

The board thanked the Jonathan Alder Education Foundation for providing $2,230 to Canaan Middle School to help build a Gaga Pit.

Gaga is a game that originated among school children in Israel and is a form a dodgeball. Fifteen participants are allowed in the pit and they roll a ball. When a participant is hit, he or she leaps out of the pit and another jumps in.

“It’s a way to keep the students active,” said Principal Matt Keller.

Also getting a commendation from the board was Monroe Elementary School student Lexie Fansler who donated her 4-H project winnings to Sufficient Grace, a program that helps provide take-home meals for students and their families.

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