Two Fine Arts Programs to Receive Funding from Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation

Two Fine Arts Programs to Receive Funding from Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation
Posted on 11/13/2013

Mr. Benitez     The holiday season just may sound a little sweeter come this winter when the De Zavala band and Shaw Middle School orchestra classes get their hands on a set of new instruments courtesy of the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation grant. The grant will help keep the music alive in Pasadena ISD schools thanks to De Zavala band director Reynaldo Benitez and Shaw orchestra director Caitlin White who applied for the grant earlier this summer.
    “The instruments we are receiving in this grant will help build a band program that we hope will continue through the Pasadena High School cluster,” said Benitez. “They will be used to help promote incoming fourth graders from the feeder schools and get kids excited about fine arts.”
      Both fine arts directors are equally eager to see their programs grow in number through the generous donations made possible by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and Kinder Morgan Foundations.
      “We are going to reach more of our students in a way that we could not before,” said White. “It is so exciting to know that in the future, we will not have to turn students away from orchestra because we do not have any instruments.”
      The Opus Foundation donates both new and refurbished instruments to school music programs that lack the resources to keep up with equipment loss due to attrition, depreciation and wear over time, and to accommodate students on waiting lists or who have to share instruments.
    The De Zavala band will receive one baritone, double French horn, tenor saxophone, bassoon and trombone; while the Shaw orchestra will take home eight violins, two celli, a string bass and 11 violins.
    Benitez said his goal is to build an inventory of instruments that will allow students to join the band without having to worry about financial implications.
    “I know purchasing or renting an instrument is a huge responsibility and financial issue for parents,” said Benitez. “As long as I am a music educator, I want to do whatever I can to give students the same experience I had in band.”
      Director of Fine Arts Linda Fletcher said the partnership is a first for the district which will allow Pasadena schools to be eligible to apply for the grant on a more regular basis.       
      “The passion for music education displayed in the 1995 film Mr. Holland’s Opus reflects the same passion I see in so many of our Pasadena ISD music teachers,” said Fletcher. “While they may never be featured in film, I see the same commitment for music excellence in our music programs throughout our district.”
      Representatives from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation will visit both schools for presentations at a later date.

DeZavala Band
De Zavala band members during practice.

Shaw Orchestra
Shaw orchestra members during practice.