Belington Middle School recently received about $30,000 in new band instruments through the statewide VH1 Save The Music Foundation Program grant.
The school is one of 16 schools in the state to receive the award, which is designed to help schools expand band programs.
"It continues to help us grow our music programs from the elementary school up," said Moke Post, the principal of Belington Middle School.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Belington Middle School recently received about 36 new instruments valued at $30,000 through the VH1 Save The Music Foundation Program. The school is one of 16 middle schools in the state to receive that value in instruments this fall. Here, leaders gather Wednesday with a commemorative banner. From left are Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of the state Department of Culture and History; Rob Davidson, VH1 director of programs and policy; Rick Kennedy, band director; Dr. F. Joseph Super, superintendent of Barbour County Schools; school board member Joanne McConnell and school board President Bob Wilkins.
The instruments received are a basic setup meant for a beginning band, said Rob Davidson, VH1 director of programs and policy. The instruments included drums, percussion, orchestra bells and more from Yamaha.
"Generous sponsors" throughout the state have contributed $450,000 to match the national VH1 Save The Music partnership program to secure $30,000 worth of instruments for each of these schools," a news release about the program stated.
The partnership program itself also is expanding. Entering its third year, the overall number of middle and elementary schools in the state to receive music instruments now totals 35, according to the news release.
A special program was conducted in the Belington Middle School gymnasium Wednesday, with honored guests and public officials in attendance. Representatives from VH1 Save The Music and the West Virginia Department of Culture and History were among attendees.
"We congratulate and we thank everybody for their contributions to this," said Dr. F. Joseph Super, superintendent of Barbour County Schools, who also extended thanks to the Board of Education "for all the support they give to all of our programs."
The Belington Middle School band has about 80 members, and the school's student body totals 216, Post said.
"Every time they play, I get a lump in my throat because they just sound wonderful," said Kathleen Schoonover, the master of ceremonies for the school's band. "This grant will enable many of our students to become band members and to enjoy presenting music as many of our students already do."
During its 2012 band assessment at Elkins High School, the Belington Middle School band received a superior rating from all three judges, Schoonover said.
"There are three great drum lines in West Virginia," Super said, "WVU, Philip Barbour High School and Belington Middle School."
Delegate Mary Poling, D-Barbour, played a vital role in the West Virginia Legislature in funding the VH1 Save The Music Program. She referred to the school's band as a "great asset.
"The quality of the music and the presentation you just made gave us chills," Poling said.
Randall Reid-Smith, the commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Culture and History, said the goal is to bring musical instruments to every elementary and middle school in the state that has a qualified music teacher.
"I think our state thrives on promoting the arts," Poling said. "It's great to give our own students a chance to participate in that."
Parents of Belington Middle School band students in the past often had to purchase the instruments for their child to participate, Poling added. The new instruments allow students who wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to participate, and it also allows the school to expand its band program.
"Research and all of the educational programming that I studied shows that enrichment in the arts adds to the overall intellectual ability of the students to learn in other subjects, as well as to just enrich the student's life," Poling said.