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Bend Pops Orchestra donates $10,000 to the Crook County High School, Middle School music programs

PHOTO COURTESY OF CROOK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT - Local band students help celebrate the Bend Pops Orchestra donationThe Crook County High School and Middle School programs were gifted a large donation that will help the programs purchase more instruments.

Bend Pops Orchestra announced early last week that it has completed an anonymous gift matching drive by donating $10,000 to the Crook County School District. The funds will be used to purchase instruments for the middle and high school music programs.

"It's a validation that our music program is here to stay," said Crook County Band Director Brooks Barnett.

The initial gift began with $5,000 from an anonymous donor, who desired the funds to be matched up to that amount with donations raised by the orchestra. Over the course of a season, private and public donations met the challenge, allowing a full $10,000 to be disbursed.

The initial gift constrained the funds' use to making music study available to children who might not otherwise have the opportunity. The orchestra board investigated needs around Central Oregon and considered funding private lessons and instrument rental for kids. COVID-19 made that plan unworkable. With the pandemic, face-to-face music has been impossible for musicians and teachers alike.

The orchestra board then considered school districts and deemed Crook County the best fit for the funds. Barnett remembers when the group contacted him out of the blue.

"They just called me," he recalls. "They just reached out."

Barnett says the money will be split equally between the middle and high school programs and used to buy new instruments. Those instruments will include some trombones and some saxophones. He plans to source the purchases through local music shop Just Joe's Music in Bend.

"We are thrilled to give the students of Crook County schools the opportunity to make music," said Board chair Lisa Hakesley. "School instruments are always in short supply. It is a tremendous loss to the community when young musicians don't have the resources they need to get involved with their school's music program."

"The timing for this donation works out well," she added. "Music programs are beginning to open back up. It's important for communities and schools to keep music in children's lives. Tomorrow's performers are created in classrooms today."

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