As schools around the valley are making cuts to their budgets, three Clark County schools will be able to purchase new instruments this school year because of a $40,000 gift from corporate sponsors.
Two schools in the southwest valley, Cashman Middle School and Clark High School, and one east valley school, Robison Middle School, will split the money.
The grant was provided by the VH1 Save the Music Foundation and Toyota as part of a charitable campaign. The partnership previously helped purchase instruments in four schools in New Orleans and Chicago.
Several hundred band and orchestra students from each school gathered in the auditorium at Clark for an assembly to announce the gift.
But that wasn’t all they were there for.
Las Vegas band Imagine Dragons performed acoustic songs in support of the initiative. Though teachers tried to keep the performance a secret from students, most had found out about it beforehand.
That didn’t stop them from screaming and cheering when the dusty velvet curtains pulled back to reveal the band members, Dan Reynolds, Wayne Sermon, Ben McKee and Daniel Platzman, as they plunged into current hit “Believer.”
While the performance may be what students talk in the short term, the instruments purchased with the grant money will last long after students graduate.
In the past 20 years, Clark’s music program has grown from about 30 students to about 90 percent of Clark’s approximately 3,000 students, Clark principal Jillyn Pendleton said.
“I am here to tell you that music is alive and well in the Clark County School District,” Pendleton told her audience. “Here at Clark High School music is often referred to as the heartbeat of our school.”
Robison Middle School principal Immer Ravalo said that she will be able to purchase seven instruments for her school: three alto saxophones, two violas and two cellos.
“We are in a neighborhood where we want to make sure music stays alive, and our kids don’t always have the funds to buy their own instruments,” Ravalo said. “So this really helps us and the program … My teachers are really excited about this grant.”
Instruments often are repaired, year after year, instead of replaced, she said.
“Our instruments are pretty old, and we usually can only probably buy a couple each year,” Ravalo said.
Cashman seventh-grader Alexander Foskaris and friends Czarina Quinteros, America Vasquez and Anna Bachvarov credited orchestra teacher Kathryn Green for keeping them involved with music at school.
“She really pushes us to do our best,” Czarina said. “And she’s a great teacher.”
“She encourages us and she pushes us,” Anna echoed. “And she’s really funny.”
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