Washington Prep High School in Los Angeles sits on the boundary of three notorious gangs. One administrator there no longer refers to students by their first names. He said he has been to too many funerals and does his best now not to get attached to them. The music program at Washington Prep High School is vibrant with its marching, concert and jazz bands.
Music students know that when rehearsing every day after school, it is safe and productive, a distraction from the streets and their often dismal home life. The music program creates a family environment for those who participate, a safe place where they look out for one another. As one student said, “The gangs can’t get to me in here.” Each morning, all of the music students gather together on the school lawn to check in and make sure that everyone made it to school safely that day.
Dozens of alumni return each year to help coach the marching band and a former student Cory Hart returned to teach music to a new generation. Thanks to the generosity of many people, Washington Prep students received enough new instruments to replace the old ones and allow more students into the band.
A Teacher's Story:
When I arrived at Ford I was hit with the cold reality of what I had to work with. The instrument selection was grim. I had almost no workable instruments and maybe two mouthpieces. I did have decent drums and a handful of old band kids who wanted to make things happen.
I strongly feel that, through the gift of instruments from your organization, many children will have an opportunity to participate in a unique and exciting learning and performing environment. The skills and methods learned in the school band program are valuable skills that can be applied in many directions throughout a lifetime of learning. Some of our students spend every spare moment they have at the band hall, eager to play and learn.
Without your gift we could not have adequately provided these opportunities on the level that we performed this year. In the New Orleans area music is so much a part of the daily life and culture. It is so wonderful to see a young child have the opportunity to connect with music and their culture. Thank you for these opportunities.
Mike Clark, Band Director, Henry Ford Middle School, Avondale, LA
A Student's Story:
I’m a 17 year old Hispanic kid who lives in Downtown Los Angeles. Being the first person in my family to have an interest for music, I’m proud to say that music has been an integral part of my life. As I go on with my music career, I hope that it can open the door for me to attend a great college and enhance my education. By obtaining a saxophone from your foundation, I hope to not only teach inner-city kids, but be able to share my experiences with them.
There are no words that express my gratitude and appreciation for awarding me with a brand new professional alto saxophone. As I go on with my musical career, I will never forget the blessing that this foundation has given me and every time I play my new saxophone, the importance of each note that I play, will represent the importance that you guys have played in my life. Thank you for helping disadvantaged kids like me continue their path to success.”