RYAN GILBERT: Help us support Chippewa Hills Orchestra

TO THE EDITOR:

When the Chippewa Hills Board of Education cut the orchestra program from the curriculum due to budgetary concerns, many in the community were upset.

The orchestra program was a part of the curriculum for 50 years, providing unique educational opportunities for students not seen in other nearby districts. In fact, the Chippewa Hills Orchestra was the only orchestra program

TAKING INITIATIVE: Central Michigan University senior Ben Gudbrandson is director of the after-school Warrior Chamber Orchestra. (Pioneer file photo)

in the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School district. Additionally, studies suggest orchestral education can “dramatically change the life trajectory of hundreds of thousands of the nation’s youth while transforming the communities around them.” (elsistemanusa.org)

Students who participate in orchestral education are more likely to graduate in the upper 10 percent of their graduating class and perform better on standardized tests (astadev.yourassociation.org). It is clear from these studies and from students who participated in the orchestra program at Chippewa Hills, this curricular experience was transformative.

We feel programs like the orchestra program that positively influence student performance in other courses and on standardized tests should continue, even in tough budgetary climates.

To increase advocacy for the orchestra program, the Chippewa Hills Orchestral Society (CHOS) was formed soon after the program was cut. Through our advocacy efforts and with support from the Chippewa Hills Board of Education, two after-school programs were initiated that meet once a week.

This stopgap measure continues the orchestra program for those students who were part of the curriculum offering last year. However, it does not sufficiently train and educate beginning students. Over time, if the program is not re-instated, there will not be enough proficient students to continue an orchestra in future years.

In an attempt to re-instate the orchestra program, the CHOS has sponsored several events to raise funds. Supporters (Chippewa Hills’ students and alumni, and other orchestra performers) play at venues like grocery stores, art studios and senior citizen centers. Through such efforts and fundraising at the Mecosta County Community Foundation Match Day more than $20,000 has been raised in pursuit of our goal of $70,000. At every venue and from every donation received, we feel strong community support to reinstate the Chippewa Hills orchestra program.

On Feb. 19 the CHOS is hosting a benefit concert and silent auction at Mount Pleasant High School, located at 1155 S. Elizabeth St. in Mount Pleasant. The silent auction, which begins at 6 p.m., features more than 50 donated products from local businesses. Silent auction items include overnight stays at hotels, spa and health goods, hardware and sports items, gift cards and art from many community artists.

The orchestra concert will begin at 7 p.m. and feature five different orchestra groups covering a variety of musical genres (classical, fiddle and pop). We invite the community to attend and enjoy a night of stringed music.

On behalf of the CHOS, thank you to our many advocates and donors. We look forward to greeting you at the benefit concert. Let’s bring back the Chippewa Hills Orchestra so future generations of students can be transformed.

RYAN GILBERT, CHOS President

LINDA TRAVIS, CHOS Trustee

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