‘This means so much’: Eastern Carolina middle school gets funding for musical instruments

CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – Thursday, with the help of several faculty members, students at an Eastern Carolina middle school got a surprise that could be life-changing.

A special gift came from the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, which is a national organization supporting music education in schools.

“This means so much to other students also because I know some students who wanted to do band but couldn’t because they didn’t really have the money to get instruments so this would be a really good help to those students and students in the future,” band student Marley Tyler said.

A five-round grant process started back in August and included an on-site interview with the West Craven Middle School band director and principal.

Now, months later, various types of band instruments valued at up to $33,078 are headed to the school.

“I am super excited that the students here are going to have the opportunity to have opportunities that everybody else across the country has and that I can be a part of that. My students are special, and I am truly inspired by my students every day” Ashley Etheredge, band director said.

The national foundation has already awarded 883 instruments to schools across the country and is still continuing to change the lives of students like these.

“Our students have not just gone through COVID as the whole world has gone through, but we’ve had several national disasters to take place in the form of hurricanes and floods and in this area that have left families displaced, families without jobs, so students without instruments, and I think that with receiving this grant, it’s going to put that shining light and that beam of hope back into the eyes of our students,” Principal Stefine King said.

The band is hoping that they will receive the brand-new instruments just in time for their spring concert.

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