SEASIDE – Every once in a while it’s good to take a break from a hard day at school.

That’s just what students at Seaside Heights Elementary School did May 24 for about an hour as they listened to the Hilda Lahti Elementary School marimba band perform at the Heights gym.

The event was kicked up by Heights Principal Dan Gaffney and teachers handing out student awards, then, donning his sun glasses to get into the mood, Gaffney introduced the leader of the band, John Fenton.

Sitting intently on the gym floor at first, the 300 kids listened to Fenton explain the music and what was about to be played. As the student band members began to play, the students moved in rhythm and clapped their hands.

Fenton who has been a teacher in the Knappa School District for 30 years said the district’s music program had eroded over the years.

“We have no regular music program anymore,” he said. “We’ve lost our vocal music program and we have lost our band. We actually do sing-a-longs from kindergarten through third grade, but after that they don’t have anything.”

Fenton said the District is committed to music and with the help of grant money from the Knappa School Foundation has been able to put together the marimba band for students.

“Music is a lifelong enjoyment that these children can have,” Fenton said. “They are gaining a lot of musical skills both in melody and rhythm and studies have shown that music helps students improve in math and all the subject areas. It is something that should never be on the chopping block.”

Braedon Eltagonde, 12, said being in the band is like being in a family.

“This encourages us to do more,” he said. “It makes me feel good.”

“I feel happy when I am playing the marimbas,” said Jaden Miethe, 12.

Emma Taggart, 11, was scared when she walked up to play in the band.

“Once we started to play I felt really happy,” she said.

Ariel Maite, 11 said it wasn’t too difficult for her to learn how to play the marimbas.

“Once you get in to it, you know how to do it, but it does take a lot of practice,” she said. “It is super fun.”

Dale Takalo, 12, said there’s one thing special about playing in the band for him.

“Just the joy of the crowd,” he said. “Seeing them really love the music is pretty exciting.”

A few students from the Heights School were selected to play with the band. They teamed up with the Knappa students for a practice before the afternoon concert. During the concert the Knappa students turned over their instruments to the Heights students so they could play a tune for the audience and at the end of the tune the crowd gave them a hardy round of applause. Principal Dan Gaffney joined The Heights students as they danced to the limbo to the delight of the audience.

Other members of the Hilda Lahti Elementary School marimba band include assistant Dan Palenske, students Jeanne Brussard, Mackenzie Strain, Paris Vandenburg, Sophia Hansen, Ryan Killion, Josh Fulton, Nayeli, and Noah Gannaway.

© 2012 Seaside Signal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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