Instruments will get repaired, new equipment will be purchased, guest performers will visit and music educators will receive training thanks to about $182,000 in grant money recently awarded to Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 by the DuPage Community Foundation.
School board President Barbara Intihar was nearly moved to tears Wednesday while accepting the grants.
"Music is such a vital part of our district and it just means so much to kids and their studies," she said. "We face severe ... budget issues and a lot of communities ... in this situation would be cutting the arts. We as a board have always felt very strongly about maintaining the arts and thank you for helping us do that."
Barb Szczepaniak, director of programs for the DuPage Community Foundation, said the money came from an anonymous donor who serves as the adviser of the foundation's JCS fund. That donor, she said, also helped support the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's recent visit to the Morton Arboretum and a study to determine interest in creating a countywide arts council.
"The JCS fund is having a tremendous impact on the arts in DuPage right now," Szczepaniak said. "(The donor) personally is interested in the arts in general, and very interested in arts education, classical and orchestral in particular. She wants to give (students) the opportunity to be exposed to, and learn to appreciate, music."
Several months ago, the donor offered an opportunity for schools in Wheaton, Glen Ellyn and Glendale Heights to apply for $308,000 in grants, Szczepaniak said.
In total, the foundation plans to award District 200 with more than $190,000 for instrument purchases and repairs, guest artist performances, field trips, recording and sound equipment, professional development and more.
However, Szczepaniak said, about $9,000 is being withheld from the district until certain conditions are met, such as the employment of a guitar teacher before money is released to purchase guitars.
The funding will be distributed as followed:
• The district will receive $47,500 to be used toward instrument purchases and educating kindergarten through fifth-grade music educators about the Orff method of teaching
• Edison Middle School will receive $19,900 to bring in guest clinicians and purchase instruments and recording equipment.
• Franklin Middle School will receive $24,680 to pay for transportation to local elementary schools, where students will act as mentors to younger musicians, and to local senior citizen homes for group performances. The money also will be used for honorariums for guest artists and for the purchase of choral music and electric and brass instruments.
• Monroe Middle School will receive $20,000 to pay for instrument purchases and repairs, sheet music and band and orchestra chairs.
• Wheaton North High School will receive $24,978 to purchase a music filing system and a timpani for the band and orchestra.
• Wheaton Warrenville South High School will receive $22,525 that will go toward the purchase of instruments, tuition costs for summer training, practice room equipment, guest artist performances and clinics and recording and sound equipment.
• Madison Elementary School will receive $6,900 to provide mentoring for beginning orchestra students.
Roughly $14,000 will be taken from the money allotted to each of the middle schools and high schools and put toward the purchase of a shared ultrasonic brass cleaning machine.
Some of the money awarded to Madison also will be shared, with the hiring of a professional string quartet to perform for kindergarten through fifth-grade students at several of the district's elementary schools.
"I wish that I could convey the emotion that came through on emails as I told our music staff that this was in the works and that so many of them had been successful (with their grant applications). They are so excited," District 200 Interim Superintendent Faith Dahlquist said.
Other schools and districts that received grant money from the foundation for their music programs include Glen Ellyn Elementary District 89; Glenbard West and Glenbard East high schools; Hadley Junior High School in Glen Ellyn; and Queen Bee Elementary District 16 in Glendale Heights.