By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Ask three students at Delano High School if they’re in band or choir, and chances are, one will say “yes.”
“Music participation at Delano is excellent,” noted DHS choir director Andrew Beard.
As a way to get parents involved as well, Beard and DHS band director Jason Koets started a Music Boosters club in October.
“By fundraising and increasing community support and awareness, we will be able to provide DHS students with the best possible music experience,” Beard said.
Throughout the year, the boosters plan to raise money for items that aren’t currently in the school’s music budget.
“Our immediate goals are to purchase choir robes for the choir, buy new equipment for the band, and help students work toward fundraising for trips,” Beard said.
According to DHS secretary Marie Thomas, who serves as treasurer of the Music Boosters, high-quality choir robes can cost $200 each.
“They’re quite expensive,” she said. The Music Boosters hope to buy robes for the roughly 50 students involved in concert choir.
Another goal is to unite the music department by allowing band and choir members to take trips together. Currently, the band students go somewhere every other year, performing at places like Disney World in Orlando, FL, and the Alamo in San Antonio, TX.
“What better way to tell others about Delano our great school, talented students, and wonderful town,” Thomas noted.
A new auditorium?
The Music Boosters also have goals that would impact students for many years to come.
“Our longer term goal and dream is to get the support to build a new performance hall in Delano,” Beard said. “Our program has outgrown the current auditorium, and it would be great to have a performance space similar to that in towns nearby.”
People who attend concerts at DHS often have to sit on folding chairs in the back or stand due to lack of space.
“If our school keeps growing, the situation is only going to get worse,” Thomas said. “Also, wouldn’t it be nice if we could invite the community? Now, there simply isn’t room.”
According to Shawn Peterson of the Delano Jaycees, money is a top concern when thinking about a new auditorium.
However, “it can be done, if we get enough people involved,” he said. “It doesn’t have to look like Carnegie Hall, but we do need a larger space.”
The Music Boosters has only had a few meetings so far, but interest in the club is growing steadily.
“We believe that as we continue to build a strong booster club, student opportunity will increase, which will then increase student participation a win-win situation,” Beard noted.
DHS’s music program is already at a high point, with two before-school jazz band classes and a pep band that plays at many home games.
Next school year, there are plans for four curricular choirs a first for the choir program in Delano.
Also, the choir has a before-school group that will perform the national anthem at the Wednesday, Feb. 16 Timberwolves game.
Beard anticipates participation to keep rising in both band and choir.
“We have a great staff in the middle school that continually sends students to the high school who are musically prepared to succeed,” he said.
According to Peterson, being involved in band and choir builds strong discipline, teamwork, and other useful skills students can carry with them, no matter what career path they choose.
“There’s a ton of literature showing that children who go through a music program are more likely to do well in school, and it improves their lives as a whole,” Peterson said. “Music is a part of most people’s lives in some way, shape, or form.”
Peterson, a former DHS student, has many fond memories of learning to play instruments at school.
“I still play, and it’s paid for a few grocery bills here and there,” said Peterson, a skilled saxophonist and drummer.
In addition to playing in bands, Peterson spent several years working as an audio engineer at a recording studio.
Peterson’s children are also natural musicians.
“My daughter is in choir, and my son plays drums,” he said.
Peterson’s son, JT, has a band called Chemical Defense that will be performing at a teen dance Friday, Jan. 21. Those who attend are asked to bring non-perishable food items for the local food shelf.
Thomas also has a musical background, and both her sons have been in band at DHS.
“It was fun to work together to create great music,” commented her son Joey, who is now a freshman at Kansas State University.
Joey isn’t planning to pursue a career in music, but said that playing the trumpet was still a beneficial experience.
To learn more about the Music Boosters, contact DHS at (763) 972-3365.
“We’re hoping for more parent participation in the Music Boosters,” Thomas said.
“The more the merrier,” Peterson added.