Normandeau School raising funds for band program

FUNDS NEEDED – Grade 6 Normandeau School students practice their instruments during a band class at the school. The school is hoping to raise the funds to continue to offer the program to Grade 7 and 8 students.

A growing school in Red Deer north has received assistance from the community recently to help build their middle school music program.

Over the past few months teachers, parents, board members and citizens have rallied together to raise the necessary money to purchase instruments for Normandeau School to have the opportunity to offer Grade 7 and 8 students a music option elective.

Currently the school only has enough resources to be able to offer up music programming to students Grade 6 and under, leaving the students with no musical alternative when entering Grade 7.

Only a Grade 6 band program is being offered at the school in combination with the G.H. Dawe School, which faces the same struggle. This means twice a week, Dawe students travel to Normandeau to participate in the band program.

Having caught wind of the two school’s wishes to grow their musical program at a Citywide parent council meeting and knowing first hand the value of music in child’s life Everett Tetz, manager of Bo’s Bar and Grill offered to help in any way he could.

Tetz is also a school counselor who is currently on academic leave to finish his graduate studies and in September will be returning to the school system again, but this time as vice principal for Ecole Oriole Park School.

“I view programs such as these as forms of prevention for bullying, mental health issues and a myriad of others challenges our students face,” said Tetz, who raised around $6,000 through a fundraiser for the school last Friday night at Bo’s Bar and Grill. “Every minute we put into prevention, we save in intervention – which is often expensive, time consuming, and have low rates of success.

“I believe we need to shift our focus to prevention and giving children access to the arts is a way of doing that.”

Prior to 2011, Normandeau School was pre-Kindergarten to Grade 5, but was later made a pre-Kindergarten to Grade 8 school similar to many others in the City. This left the schools to adapt to changes and start from scratch on middle school programs.

Prior to last Friday’s fundraiser, Tetz had been in contact with Alison Klavano, music teacher at Normandeau School who was thrilled to hear of his interest in the program as she herself has organized a number of fundraisers over the last few months. Her love for music and the benefits she sees in the lives of her students push her to continue raises funds for the cause.

“To start a school band program is expensive – we’re talking within the vicinity of $20,000,” said Klavano. “So we’re starting slowly. I began teaching a bucket drumming class here and we’ve got something small in the Grade 6 band that we can work on until we have the funds to be able purchase instruments for these programs.

“It’s a good team-building activity. It’s learning how to work together. There are a number of studies that have been done to show that kids who study music will flourish in other subjects and benefit their brains in ways we don’t even fully understand.”

Tetz said he hopes to continue to advocate on behalf of these types of programs and hopes others will see value in it as well.

“This will be a tough year with the cuts to education,” said Tetz. “But it’s just been forcing us to get creative and find the money elsewhere to make sure every kid has access to these programs.”

For more information contact Normandeau School at 403-342-0727.

jswan@reddeerexpress.com