Optimists Pledge Funds to HMS Performing Arts

Optimists Pledge Funds to HMS Performing Arts

For four years Diane D’Amico and her husband, Phil Goetkin, have been organizing the Herndon Optimist Club’s annual fund-raiser, which typically benefits area youth sports leagues, as well as finances essay and oratorical contests. This time, however, any profits from the concert and dance will go to the Herndon Middle School performing arts department.

“When the [fund-raiser] came up again, I said unless the money goes for something other than sports, I don’t want to do it,” said D’Amico. “I was involved in the arts. I didn’t play sports; not all kids play sports. I know people say sports mold a child’s life, but the arts molded my life.”

SO ALL the proceeds from the event, Oct. 18, will be used to buy the school music technology stations and finance a trip to the Kennedy Center.

“This is definitely very welcomed. The school system gives what it can, but to get a technology lab established takes a lot of resources,” said Jerry Kavinski, the middle school’s chorus director. “It’s really great they came to us.”

Kavinski said the school’s performing arts programs have about 400 students involved in activities ranging from chorus, orchestra, drama and concert band.

"You have to understand, it is a rare occasion when a group outside Herndon Middle School asks us how they can be of help to our department," said Sharon Bonneau, the school's band director, in a release. "We have a wish list that includes items that could not be otherwise funded by the school, so it's wonderful to have a group like the Optimists approach us as benefactors."

The Optimists have committed to give the school at least $5,000 to cover the cost of technology stations and the Kennedy Center trip.

THE TECHNOLOGY STATIONS, said Kavinski, are computers with a standard computer keyboard and a piano-like keyboard. The technology station can read music, arrange music or be used as a teaching tool. The Optimists will provide two complete stations and the software.

"The technology stations … it's fascinating what they can," D'Amico said. "Some kids have music in their head but don't know how to put it into music. They can sit down at a station, play the music and this does it for them."

A portion of the money will also be used to send the seventh-grade students to the Kennedy Center for a educational workshop. Each year the teacher, Barb Williams, organizes the trip.

"The school provides buses, but she was paying out of her pocket for some students and the chaperones," D'Amico said. "This way all the seventh-graders get to go."

THE FUND-RAISER is an informal concert and dance where participants are encouraged to bring the entire family, as well as their own food and refreshments, said D'Amico.

They're also asked to bring their spare change.

Jars for donations will be passed around during the course of the event.

"It's a very informal, party atmosphere," D'Amico said. "Everything we make beyond the cost of the event goes to the middle school."

The entertainment will be provided by Herndon resident Katy Benko. However, the middle school chorus is hoping to be able to sing in between Benko's sets.

"The students are very excited, especially about integrating the technology lab into the classroom," Kavinski said. "We, as educators, are very happy to be able to do this for them."