By Kyle Lovern
The state Commissioner of the Arts, Randall Reid-Smith, made another trip to Mingo County on Thursday morning to make a grant presentation at Williamson PreK-8 to be used for musical instruments.
Reid-Smith has made frequent trips to Mingo County to present band instruments and promote the musical programs in the school system.
Previously, Reid-Smith, through the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, has helped with the music programs at Gilbert and Kermit middle schools.
“We have great cooperation out of this county,” the arts commissioner said. “Mrs. (Laura) Bobbera has done a great job at Gilbert and Mingo Central.”
“West Virginia is a great place and really unique,” he added. “With this program we can help rebuild band programs throughout the state.”
Bobbera has helped start the band program at Gilbert Middle School and a string quartet at Mingo Central.
Mingo County Superintendent of Schools Randy Keathley, Williamson band director Eddie Henry, and assistant principal Ralph Pyskowski were at the presentation. Williamson’s band will receive eight flutes, 11 clarinets, six trumpets, four trombones, three saxophones and percussion instruments by the beginning of the next school term.
“It is an honor for Commissioner Reid-Smith to come to Mingo County to help promote music and the arts,” Keathley said. “We hope to have music programs in every school in the county. The hard work and dedication was shown with our recent Arts Alive presentation held at Mingo Central.”
A reception was held in the school library, organized by parent volunteer Robin Griffey.
“This statewide program started right here in Mingo County,” Reid-Smith said. “We sealed the deal in a meeting we had in Gilbert.”
He said that, to date, 51 schools in 41 counties have received grants for the purchase of band instruments.
“West Virginia is on course to bring musical instruments to every elementary and middle school in our state that has a qualified music teacher, and we hope to see programs in every county of the state within the next few years,” said Reid-Smith. “Studies show that music education helps develop critical thinking and self-discipline skills, and improves early cognitive development. We also hope that our students will develop a lifelong interest in music and other arts as a result of these educational experiences.”
Reid-Smith said the matching partnership program encourages interested organizations and individuals to donate $15,000 for the VH1 Save The Music Foundation match. The schools, in turn, complete a comprehensive review of their music programs to demonstrate eligibility for the program.
Any traditional West Virginia public elementary or middle school that has a certified music teacher and wants to build its instrumental music program may qualify for a VH1 Save The Music Foundation grant, according to Reid-Smith.
For more information, contact WVDCH Arts Director Renée Margocee at (304) 558-0240 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, cabinet secretary. The division, led by Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org.
The VH1 Save The Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring instrumental music education programs in America’s public schools, and raising awareness about the importance of music as part of each child’s complete education. To date, VH1 Save The Music Foundation has provided more than $50 million in new musical instruments to 1,900 public schools in more than 100 cities across the country, and impacting the lives of more than 2.3 million children. The Foundation has renewed its commitment to donate $100 million worth of new musical instruments to ensure that even a greater number of students receive a comprehensive music education in the coming decade. To get involved and learn more, go to www.vh1savethemusic.com.
Kyle Lovern is sports editor of the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at email@example.com or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33, or on Twitter @KyleLovern.