The Highland Music Boosters (HMB) organization was established two years ago by concerned parents of music students in the Highland Central School District who saw the music programs in the schools being cut along with other disciplines that aren’t mandated by the state. As strong believers in the value of music education, the HMB set out to support and enhance the music programs for grades K-12. Their goal, said Randie Ratick, the group’s president and one of its founders, has not been to replace programs the school district is supposed to keep, but rather to “advocate for excellence in the music programs we have and give our students more opportunities.”
So in that spirit, the Highland Music Boosters established awards this year for Highland music students, to recognize their accomplishments and provide some financial assistance to continue their musical development throughout the summer. In addition to certificates of recognition that were presented to the winners at the district’s recent Board of Education meeting on May 20, each student will receive $100 to apply to a music-related activity of their choice this summer, which could range from lessons or music camp to instrument repair or purchase of music literature.
The funds were raised through local businesses placing ads in the school music concert programs, said Ratick, along with donation jars set out in the lobby at concerts.
Any student enrolled in the district’s choral or band programs in grades four through eleven was eligible for an award. A total of six students, two each from the elementary, middle and high schools, was selected by a committee of three that included Kit Cowan, musician and music educator for the Arlington Central School District; Joe Avampato, Highland High School grad of 1988 and performer with the 20th Century Limited Drum & Bugle Corps; and recent Highland High School grad Alan Spaulding, the only Highland graduate to date to have been selected as a vocalist for the All-Eastern Music Conference and a current musical theater major in Boston. The three members of the selection committee were given certificates of appreciation at last week’s School Board meeting for their volunteer efforts in the project.
The youngest honorees were both fifth-graders: Peter Bender, who is in chorus and plays trumpet, and Paige Tomanocy, who plays flute and is also in chorus. Grade six winners included Isabela Cuya, a saxophonist, who said she plans to use the $100 award for private lessons to work on tonguing and articulation on her instrument. Minh Tran, also a sixth-grader, plays trumpet and said he intends to use his prize funds for trumpet and piano repertoire books. Ninth-grader Brianna Beal is a percussionist; she said she’ll probably use her award for new percussion equipment or maybe piano lessons. The final honoree of the night was tenth-grader Summer Bugbee, who performs in the Highland High School Chorus.
Membership in the Highland Music Boosters is free and open to parents of music students along with any member of the community who’d like to put their support behind the group. While booster groups are associated primarily with fundraising activities, advocacy for music education is just as central to the HMB’s purpose, Ratick said.
The HMB is currently seeking volunteers to assist with the spring concerts slated for Monday, June 2 at the middle school and Wednesday, June 4 at the elementary school. The group’s next meeting will be on Thursday, June 5 at 7 p.m. in the Highland High School library.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the Highland Central School District website at www.highland-k12.org (the link is under “quick links” on the home page) or visit www.Facebook.com/HighlandMusicBoosters.