Teacher Rebecca Yates sits with some of the worn and weathered instruments that have been found in Century School’s storage. A donation fund has been set up to raise money for new instruments that can be loaned out for student use. Photo by Amber Skelton.

Century School District offers new band program

The economy may make funding for educational programs difficult, but one school is choosing to ensure it has money for the arts. 

Children in kindergarten through 8th grade in Century Unit District No. 100 at Ullin will be given the opportunity to join a new band program starting Nov. 1.

Century had a functioning band program up until 1999, when it was cut. 

Teachers attempted to bring it back during the 2009-2010 school year, but it was cut again due to funding along with art and agricultural classes.

Century superintendent and middle and high school principal Leslie Varble is a firm supporter of music programs in schools and is working to insure the funding for the band students. 

The State of Illinois has promised full funding this year to schools, and half of the money made from the sale of old Century school buses is to go towards the program.

But Rebecca Yates, a music and science teacher for the Century School District, said that the community’s help will be necessary to put instruments in the students’ hands.

“I’ve got a bunch of junior high students who want to join, and that was the first question, ‘Do I have to buy an instrument? Because if I have to buy an instrument, I can’t do it’,” Yates said.

Yates set up a community funding site online at https://www.donorschoose.org/project/century-starts-a-band/2188333/. 

Donors do not have to create an account to give, and they have several options to make online donations.

The $2,132 online goal would cover the cost of 10 instruments; two flutes, two trumpets, two saxophones and two trombones. The money would also allow for the purchase of three sets of drumsticks, two boxes of clarinet and saxophone reeds and service plans to maintain all of the purchased instruments. 

Those in the community who have an instrument they would like to donate to the program can bring it to Yates or the school.

An instrument display night is planned during parent-teacher conferences on Oct. 20. Instruments will be available that night to purchase or set up a rental plan through Shivelbines Music.

Yates has an elementary education degree with a music endorsement, which allows her to teach music courses for students up to the 8th grade. Efforts are in the works to make the band program available for Century high school students as well.

“It’s just as important as playing a team sport,” Yates said. “You’re learning to play together, you’re learning cooperation. If you go to competition, you’re still getting that competition that you have to practice. You have to be disciplined in band.”

The new skills kids learn through band will give them character, Yates said, and it will also open them up to new opportunities.

“Our guidance counselor says that she gets things across her desk weekly for scholarship opportunities if you play music and our kids here are missing out on all of that,” Yates said. Her own college education at Shawnee Community College was fully funded thanks to a music scholarship.

Students have responded well to the start of the new program. Sixty kids from 4th through 8th grade have shown interest in joining the band this year.

Each of those kids will get a chance to try out different sample instruments and be matched to one that suits their interest and abilities.

Once students have their instruments, they will begin learning how to play them in class. The schedule will be set up so that different sections will have lessons four days a week and the fifth day will be the full band rehearsing together.

The intense sectional system will give the students 10 to 12 weeks in which they will be able to learn their instruments quickly.

Yates said that the band should be ready to perform a mini-concert for the school in February, and the annual spring concert at the end of the school year. She hopes to have them participate in parades and music contests in the coming years.

Note: As of Monday morning, Oct. 3, the donorschoose.org project is fully funded, which will cover the purchase of instruments, supplies and service plans.

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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