Opinion

MIHS Band Boosters creates new nonprofit to support groups | Island Forum

About 35 years ago a group of parents realized that the music programs at Mercer Island High School could do more for students if they had a bit of extra financial support. So they got organized, opened a checking account and formed the MIHS Music Boosters.

Simple but effective, and for all those years, the MIHS Music Boosters has provided the band, choir and other music programs with much needed support for performances, trips and new instruments.

Today that same checking account still exists (although the bank has changed its name several times) and the boosters are still supporting the music programs at MIHS. But at least one of those music programs has changed dramatically since those early days in size, scope and complexity: the band.

We have a great black and white photo of the high school band of 1979, in their brand new uniforms (uniforms we just retired, gratefully, in 2009), sitting in the bleachers at Husky Stadium, about 50 members strong.

Our band program looks very different today. There are over 275 students in the high school band, about a quarter of the student body, and they travel much further than Husky Stadium to play. In the last 10 years they’ve been to London, China, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Pasadena. The support required for their success has grown as well. As an example, the recent London trip was an over $300,000 event.

The increased activity of the bands in parades, uniform campaigns and scholarship fundraising has made it clear that we needed a more sophisticated structure to support our program. A group of music parents has responded to this need by creating a new nonprofit to support the band programs (4th-12th) in our Mercer Island schools.

Aptly named the Mercer Island School Band Boosters, this newly minted 501c3 organization will work to ensure that band programs in the district are supported to the fullest extent possible. We anticipate the following key roles:

• Coordinating fundraising to support band programming.

• Supporting scholarships to ensure the broadest possible participation by all students in band-related activities.

• Coordinating, supporting and training volunteers to support the band programs at all levels (elementary, middle and high school).

• Coordinating community support for the bands’ participation in parades, events and other special performance opportunities.

• Advocating for the continued inclusion and funding of music education in our schools, through both local and state funding sources.

• Ensuring that all interested students are given every opportunity to express their musical voice through participation in band.

We are looking forward to working collaboratively with the many wonderful groups and organizations that support our students while expanding the dollars available to support our band programs. Our mission statement sums it up best:

The mission of the Mercer Island Schools Band Boosters is to actively support, promote and encourage the band programs of the Mercer Island School District.

If you would like to join us in our work, visit our Web site at www.misbb.org or contact me to learn more.

Terry Pottmeyer is the chair of the Mercer Island Schools Band Boosters.

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