(This post has been updated from the print edition.)
Benicia Middle School and Joe Henderson Elementary School were among 13 schools in Solano County to receive a Wong Music Mini-Grant from the Solano Community Foundation.
The grant was established in 2011 by Donald and Rose Marie Wong who were concerned by the amount of schools eliminating or reducing music education programs. Since then, funds have been used to repair or provide new instruments, pay for band uniforms and sheet music, and more. Rose Marie died in 2016, but her name lives on to ensure that students have the materials for a proper music education.
Benicia Middle received a $1,000 grant to purchase guitar sheet music for the department’s Music Wheel program. Sixth graders are given the opportunity to enroll in the Elective Wheel, which offers electives in six to seven-week intervals rather than the entire year. The Music Wheel is part of the program, and Band Director Matt Ferreira described it as an introduction to reading and writing music as well as singing fundamentals.
“The majority of our time together is spent learning to play guitar, culminating in mini in-class performances,” he said. “Throughout the wheel, I encourage students to explore their musical interests by sharing their favorite kinds of music and (hopefully) learning how to sing it or play it on guitar.”
The grant will pay for a class set of guitar method books and other guitar sheet music. Ferreira, who took over for longtime Band Director Glenn Walp, is excited about the opportunities for the BMS Viking Band.
“I am very excited that the Solano Community Foundation has awarded us a 2017 Wong Music Mini-Grant award,” he said. “I am new to BMS but I can already tell how important the arts are to this community. I think it’s awesome that we are able to receive this kind of support!”
Ferreira also said the program received a grant from the Benicia Education Foundation and Parent Teacher Student Association that was used to purchase new music stands and a cart for those stands.
Henderson students also received a $1,000 grant, this time to purchase new drums for the Drum Circle program. The recipient was fourth and fifth-grade music teacher Lesley Cunningham. Henderson music representatives could not be reached by press time for comment.
Other recipients included Franklin and Hogan middle schools of Vallejo, Anna Kyle and Suisun elementary schools and Vanden High School of Fairfield, Crystal Middle School and Dan O. Root Health and Wellness Academy of Suisun City; Vaca Pena Middle School, Kairos Public School Vacaville Academy, and Buckingham Charter Magnet High School of Vacaville; and Dixon Montessori Charter School in Dixon.
For more information about the Wong Music Mini-Grant, go to solanocf.org.