KAHS music program gets boost from Community Foundation

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Cliff Elle of the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta presents a plaque and cheque to students Jessica White, Hannah Dyck and Dylan Laturnus from KAHS band program, joined by teacher Kade Hogg, left.

A $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta will help protect thousands of dollars’ worth of musical instruments that are part of the Kate Andrews High School band program.

The foundation, which announced $178,000 in project grants at a ceremony in Lethbridge Friday, also had a hand in the Coaldale high school having those instruments to begin with.

Teacher Kade Hogg said Kate Andrews has been fortunate to receive foundation grants twice. The first, in November 2011, was a $7,500 grant that the school parlayed into matching funds from a provincial lottery grant. Topped up with support from the Coaldale Musical Arts Society, the school invested $21,000 in new instruments that year.

“This year’s grant from the foundation will be protecting that investment,” Hogg said, through the purchase of storage cases for instruments. The cases will be especially helpful when the band goes on tour.

While some of the instruments in the band are 25 years old, they’re still in good shape, but their matching storage cases were ready for retirement.

“When we went to Disneyland three years ago, I had to borrow cases from other high schools,” Hogg says.

For students, the instruments are precious cargo, and the music program itself is priceless.

Jessica White, a Grade 11 student who performs in the choir, the band and a percussion ensemble, says music has always been part of her life, and her band mates are like family. It’s a sentiment echoed by other young musicians.

“It’s one of the best parts of the day,” says Hannah Dyck. “We all have the same interests. We’re all friends. . . I love listening to the band when it plays.”

The band will travel to Disneyland to perform in the California sunshine again in 2014-15. This year, they performed in Banff, Edmonton and Calgary.

Dylan Laturnus, a Grade 10 student who plays alto sax, says the music program gives students “another place to be yourself. It’s something different in your day, something fun.”

All three band mates say they fully expect to continue to pursue and enjoy music long after their high school days are over.

“These are kids that absolutely love that (music) room,” Hogg says. “That’s where they gravitate. Music is their talent and they can really flourish in that environment.”

He credited the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta for its ongoing support of school music programs. At the most recent grant announcement event, the Kate Andrews grant was one of a half dozen in support of music programs for youth. That support is invaluable to schools where a single instrument like a tuba costs $11,000.

In addition to the foundation, Hogg credited the Coaldale Musical Arts Society for its ongoing support of the program as well.