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posted: 1/10/2013 5:31 AM

Grant gives Dist. 300 access to new instruments

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When Carpentersville Middle School band director Michael Kasper ran across "Blue and Green Music," an arrangement for middle school concert bands based on Georgia O'Keeffe's painting, he wanted his own students play it.

The problem was no one at the middle school owned a vibraphone, and the percussion instrument in the mallet family was an integral part of the piece.

Thanks to a $9,500 grant from the Elgin-based EFS Foundation, eighth-grader Mauricio Angeles will be playing the vibraphone in "Blue and Green Music" during the band's spring concert May 1.

Kasper said the grant will also go toward purchasing a four-valve tuba and a drum set. All three instruments will add to Community Unit District 300's instrument lending library, which this year is giving about 30 students across 10 different schools the opportunity to play instruments they couldn't otherwise afford.

Besides the individual students, Kasper said the lending library indirectly affects everyone in the ensembles because it gives the music directors the opportunity to choose more ambitious music.

"For us at least in Carpentersville, and the other middle schools, these things are allowing us to continue to raise the bar on our expectations for our students," Kasper said.

The new instruments should be in by the end of January.

The EFS Foundation, which supports charitable organizations in Elgin and surrounding communities, awarded the money to the District 300 Foundation for Educational Excellence in December. Diane Magerko is the chairman of the performing and fine arts committee on the District 300 Foundation, which also focuses on literacy, science and technology and student leadership.

Magerko said the District 300 Foundation has worked with EFS Foundation in the past and is especially grateful for its continued support.

"It's an exceptional opportunity for the music students in this district," Magerko said.

Magerko launched the lending library about three years ago with a donation drive. Students sign contracts committing to be responsible with their instruments and then get to borrow them for the academic year.

At Carpentersville Middle School, where 99 percent of the students get free or reduced-cost lunches, Kasper said the program allows the middle school band to be more successful every year.

To donate to the lending library, call Mary Gross at the District 300 Foundation at (847) 551-8475.

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