Parents Help Keep Music At Kalaheo

The Kalaheo High School music program has doubled in size over the past two years — from 30 to about 60 students — showing parents the obvious need to revamp the long-neglected band room and help keep the music playing.

Last fall on Make a Difference Day, for example, the small-but-dedicated group installed a surprise gift for the band director: four white boards with chalk-free markers and erasers.

Glenn Kidani, who is allergic to chalk, had asked parents to start the booster group from scratch, recalled parent Janet Rupp, now the boosters’ president. And that was just the beginning. The Mustang Band Boosters set goals, formed wish lists, worked on their nonprofit status and enlisted student section leaders to take on more duties to help the program.

“These students agreed to stand arm-in-arm with the Boosters at band room workdays,” she said, “practice even more than is required and sacrifice lunches and other personal time to better the band as a whole.”

More than $2,000 so far in out-of-pocket costs have helped to finish repairs, as well as restore, clear and clean practice space, the director’s office and storage lockers. They bought and put up shelves, and have a number of fund drives — such as ongoing Boston Pizza $20 gift certificate sales, and selling Mother’s Day gift baskets at the school’s May 8 spring fling.

Just as exciting, Rupp noted, is the band’s partnership with the Marines. Several volunteers from the base agreed to give free lessons to Mustang musicians in March, and Kaneohe Marine base chapel is the venue for a joint concert at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with the Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Band. (The April 2 date is tentative; email rupp-janet_hawaii@yahoo.com to confirm.)

To these band boosters, getting discouraged about the lack of funds and support for music in public schools is not an option. Rupp’s own kids won’t allow it. Her daughters are in the band and promote music wherever and whenever they can: Alexa (flute) and Presley Anderson (clarinet) recently spoke of their passion for music at a national leadership conference in Honolulu, based on their Girl Scout Gold Award project last summer — hands-on music workshops for grades 5 to 7.

“My children are truly pained that the music program at their high school is not what it could be and are doing everything they can to increase the passion for music and all of its benefits at Kalaheo,” Rupp said. “They just drag me along for the ride and, of course, I have to support them because they’ve taught me about how life-changing music is.”

To make a donation to the band, write a check to Kalaheo PTSA, memo Band Boosters, and send it to the school.