NW Music Foundation
The middle school music teachers of Stanwood Camano School District worked overtime Friday, but they didn’t mind.
Michelle Rockwood, of Stanwood Middle School, and Jonathan Bletscher, of Port Susan Middle School, gladly showed up after school Friday to collect a donation worth about $40,000 from the Northwest Music Foundation.
They loaded 11 boxes of teaching materials along with four flutes, two clarinets, a coronet, trumpet, tenor sax and one bell kit, from a storage unit on Camano, into Rockwood’s van, and unloaded it at Stanwood Middle School.
Northwest Music Foundation donates instruments, cash
By SARAH ARNEY Staff Reporter - Stanwood Camano News
The donation included $20,000 cash, which will be split between the two middle school music programs.
“Everything is useable,” Bletscher said, while riffling through the materials packed in boxes.
Rockwood sees more than 200 students each day in her band and choir classes at SMS and Bletscher has 150 choir and band students at PSMS.
President of the foundation, Spirk said they purchased all the materials at an auction when a music store in Marysville closed its business last spring.
“We got lots of instruments and walls and walls and walls of materials at a really good price,” she said. “We paid $300 for thousands of dollars worth of materials and all told, we paid $4,000 for a lot of instruments. It has all been in storage since then.”
The foundation was established in 2005 as her father’s trust. George Spirk played music with Cookie until he was 97. One of his last performances before he died last year was at the Stanwood-Camano Community Fair.
“He died a couple of months after Gerry Andal,” Spirk said. “They were good friends.”
George Spirk founded the not-for-profit organization to perpetuate the art of original music.
Spirk said they are in the process of amending the mission from the focus on original music.
“We realized we need to support all music education, because kids need to learn to play before they can create original music,” she said.
For Rockwood, Spirk’s call was a dream come true.
“It was Sept. 3 when I read a story in The Herald about a big donation to Everett and Mukilteo schools from the Music for Life Foundation,” Rockwood said. “I was thinking to myself, why not Stanwood?”
The next morning, she received a call from Spirk.
The cash will be used to repair instruments and purchase new ones as needed and to provide assistance to families that can’t afford to rent instruments. The money was raised from various fundraisers in Stanwood and from donors, Spirk said.
Rockwood noted the value of music in young students’ lives.
“Many studies show the importance of music in education,” she said. “Music is an important hook to keep kids connected to school.”
Bletscher, who was named teacher of the year by the district last year, after being nominated by his band students for teacher of the month in February, has never seen such a windfall land in his lap.
“We get a lot of community support for our music programs, but this one is unprecedented,” he said.
Spirk and her husband, Major Freeman, who serves the foundation as treasurer, want people to know that assistance is available for those who need it.
“And, we accept donations,” Freeman said.
For information, see nwmusicfoundation.net or call Spirk at 425-737-5144
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