Just under 100 elementary students in the Wilkinsburg School District are the benefactors to a $90,000 grant from the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. The award ignited the district’s music program and restored student interest. “We are extremely pleased to be the recipients of this grant,” says Wilkinsburg Superintendent of Schools Archie Perrin. “Our staff worked diligently with VH1 and other partners to ensure the grant would come to fulfillment; our district encourages the development of well-rounded students, both academically and through the arts.” Along with VH1, the grant was generated with the help of Houlihan’s Restaurants and Comcast. Representatives from all three organizations delivered new instruments and coordinated a check presentation ceremony on October 10, 2008. The donation is part of the foundation’s efforts to restore 3 million dollars worth of instrumental music programs nationwide this year. “Having just celebrated the foundation’s 10th anniversary we are happy to continue our mission by partnering with Houlihan’s,” says Paul Cothran, Executive Director, VH1 Save The Music Foundation. “Their ongoing support helps us to ensure that all students throughout the Wilkinsburg School District receive the benefits of music and continues to raise public awareness about the need for music education programs.” The bands at Kelly, Johnston and Turner schools received instruments through the donation, including saxophones, flutes, trumpets, trombones, clarinets, and drums. Gloria Horton, a fifth-grade student at Turner says she always wanted to play the saxophone. “We got to try all the instruments before we had to pick one,” says Horton. “I talked to my mom about playing the saxophone and she says it was a great idea but that I had to work hard to keep my grades up and still practice my music.” Ten- year-old Deonte Gaston, a fourth-grade student at Johnston Elementary, also wants to learn how to play the saxophone and balance his time with school, music and football. Deonte was still dressed in his football pads and jersey as he practiced the saxophone on the day students got to try different instruments. “I‘ve always been interested in music and I like to try new things,” he says. Music teacher Ray Strobel says there is a direct correlation between music and academic excellence. He explains how students tend to improve their skill levels in English, reading, and math in conjunction with musical training. “The two elements go hand in hand and the end result is improved academic scores and a continual process of learning,” says Strobel. “We must always find methods of reaching our students and creating new ways to educate—music is another avenue that proves to be effective.”


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