South Whidbey school music programs ring in the holidays with annual fundraiser

Students from South Whidbey High School Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble and Choir are knocking on the doors of businesses and homes this month in an effort to raise money for their music programs.

Chris Harshman directs students Claire Burns on clarinet

Students from South Whidbey High School Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble and Choir are knocking on the doors of businesses and homes this month in an effort to raise money for their music programs.

The fundraising is part of the group’s annual poinsettia sale to support the music programs at South Whidbey High School. Students will be selling poinsettias and mistletoe around the community through Oct. 27. Purchased plants will be delivered Dec. 3 to 5.

The money raised will help each program with scholarships and travel expenses for the 87 students to travel and perform at music festivals around the region. It will also help cover the expense of guest instructors, new music and to repair and purchase instruments.

High school music teacher Chris Harshman said the sale is important for students. It’s one of the smaller programs in the state, but the bands participate in festivals with larger schools of more than 1,300 enrolled students. The programs need an array of money to participate in regional and national music festivals, he said.

“Being able to share other students’ performances and have the opportunity to compare and contrast is helpful for students,” he said.

“Our numbers might be smaller, but our quality isn’t,” Harshman said. “We have a strong tradition of a superior band program.”

Heidi Klein, a senior saxophone player, is in both Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band. She said the trips are one of the best parts of being in the program. She enjoys getting to know musicians in other schools and learn from them.

“It’s nice to compete with some of the biggest bands in the state,” she said.

Senior Benjamin Nerison said he enjoys competing because sometimes South Whidbey performs better than the larger schools.

Nerison, who plays the trumpet, said his plan is to just go out and sell as many plants as he possibly can.

He said he hopes the community supports the music program as it means a lot to students, he said.

Frank Worster, president of the Performing Arts Boosters, said he hopes this fundraiser takes some of the burden off families who fund music trips.

“This is what makes the music program special, going on these trips. It’s important for students to experience different music and performances from other groups,” he said.

The students are seeking participation from every business on the South End in addition to organizations and residents.

The Jazz Band will travel to the University of Idaho in Moscow for the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in February. The band came back successful from the festival last year having won the large ensemble category and the combo category. Wind Ensemble will attend the Vancouver Kiwanis Music Festival in Vancouver, Wash. in April. The Wind Ensemble consistently earns superior ratings at the local and regional festivals they attend, Harshman said.

South Whidbey’s music programs owe much of its success to the support of South Whidbey. He said there is a great  appreciation here for the arts, as well as overwhelming generosity for its students.

The poinsettias are available for $12 and mistletoe is $8. To order call 360-321-2095 or 360-321-2874.


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