July 24, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OREGON SYMPHONY WINS OREGON COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
GRANT TO DEEPEN CONNECTIONS WITH SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS
(PORTLAND, Ore.) – Oregon Symphony President and CEO Scott Showalter today announced a new musical education partnership with the David Douglas School District, thanks to funding from The Oregon Community Foundation’s Studio to School initiative.
“We appreciate The Oregon Community Foundation’s recognition of the critical importance of art and music in the lives of students, as well as its confidence and investment in the Oregon Symphony,” Showalter said. “This new program extends our ongoing, energetic presence in schools and helps us make a meaningful difference in our community.”
The goal of The Oregon Community Foundation’s Studio to School initiative is to increase access to arts education for Oregon schoolchildren by providing multi-year support for 15 partnerships between community arts organizations and schools.
The $70,000-per-year, three-year grant will be used to support teachers in introducing 673 kindergarten-through-fourth-grade students at Gilbert Heights Elementary School to instruments and inspiring them to choose one to play; to assist teachers in professionally mentoring and coaching the fifth-through-eighth grade Alice Ott Middle School orchestra and band students as they advance to high school-level playing; and to professionally mentor and inspire teachers to integrate music into their curriculum. The Gilbert Heights Elementary staff, parents, and Symphony education staff will begin in September with the formation of a leadership team charged with assessing and addressing student and staff needs. Both are Title I schools, with 80% of students qualifying for federal free/reduced lunch programs.
The program’s goal with the David Douglas High School, to be developed over the first two years, is to put on a full orchestra concert for the David Douglas School District community with the David Douglas High School orchestra and band playing side-by-side with the Oregon Symphony.
The David Douglas School District, Showalter noted, was chosen for this project because of its already vigorous culture of music education and its existing relationship between Alice Ott Middle School and the chamber group 45th Parallel, led by Oregon Symphony violinist Greg Ewer. 45th Parallel, comprised of many other Symphony musicians in addition to Ewer, makes for a virtually seamless partnership. The acclaimed chamber music group will add to this new project by providing private student lessons and coaching sessions, as well as helping develop programs and presentations suitable for the different age groups. They will also act as the liaison between the Symphony’s education department and the Alice Ott school leadership team.
David Douglas School District Music Coordinator and Gilbert Heights Principal Cherie-Anne May expressed the district’s enthusiasm for the project: “This grant will help provide Gilbert Heights students and families, and eventually Alice Ott Middle School and David Douglas High School families, with opportunities to explore and enhance their experiences with the arts. Learning the language of music is an opportunity that all humans have a right to experience. We are so excited to bring this more in-depth opportunity to the families here in David Douglas. Integrating the arts with core reading instruction will help us pursue our goal of having all students reading at grade level by the end of third grade.
“David Douglas has a long and strong tradition of outstanding music education. Having this chance to build on art for art's sake, as well as exploring the connections with reading and music, is a natural fit for our District thanks to the continued support by our administration and school board.”