Breaking News

Acorn Music Department Exploding in Growth

Forms New Booster Club to Fund Needs and Ambitious Goals

BY MEKINZIE KYLE –

With school back in full swing, Acorn High Band Director Valerie Couch, seems both ecstatic and exhausted sitting in her office. Her last period class is the Beginning Band, and in that 47 minute period there are 60 out of the 125 musicians in the overall band. “There aren’t even enough chairs in the room, but we’re getting more!” Her statement in itself is an incredible feat, considering that when she arrived to teach K-12 music at Acorn six years ago, there were only 15 students in Advanced Band. She used to make the joke to those musicians, that in every band everyone matters, but in that band everyone really did matter, because bases were literally barely covered; now she goes on to explain that they’re looking into buying more obscure instruments to get some leg-room in the program. She considers their bases fully loaded.

Looking around the FEMA-shelter that doubles as the Acorn ‘band-hall’, it isn’t hard to see the growth. It’s evident in the countless instrument cases, loose sheet music and five sets of choir risers lining the almost every inch of the facility that’s built big enough to hold every student and faculty member on campus. A stark contrast from just two years ago when the band was tucked inside a small two-room building with cubby-holes on one wall that could hold every instrument case. She attributes this spike in involvement with her program to just being a place to belong. “Not everyone’s passion is band or choir, but if we can give someone a place to feel loved and appreciated, then we want to give them that opportunity.”

With all these musicians, and all these new and exciting instruments, the department has founded its own Booster Club to help offset expenses. The club has already gotten right down to business. To start off the organization, the department left tip jars out during their 2017 Spring Concert, and the community answered that call; over $1,000 was donated to that first initiative. Over the summer, the boosters hosted a yard sale, and recently they held a bake sale. Student volunteers and Booster Club members have really hit the fundraising hard, considering that this growing program has growing ideas.

A long talked about idea that may finally be coming to fruition is taking both band and choir students from the department to perform in Branson, MO. “It’s still in its beginning stages, but I’m really excited to be talking about it.” Her excitement also blends into talking about her plans to further expose students to colleges and universities where music scholarships and programs are available around the state, including her alma mater, Central Baptist College. At that particular college, a former AHS exchange student is currently working towards her degree, thanks in part to her exposure to the college through Couch. The AHS Band Booster Club will help to take a lot of the financial strain off of the department’s funds, and make the trips easier to be planned more often.

All in all, Couch seems thrilled for what the future holds for her music department. The expansion during her six years at Acorn has astounded all those who have been there to see it, and there doesn’t seem to be a sign of it slowing down anytime soon. Couch truly credits the program’s high membership numbers to taking time to make sure everyone in the room loves their instrument, feels supported by the department as a whole, and enjoys their time spent in the band hall. “It’s made all the difference to focus on the enjoyment,” Couch said. The musicians and staff at AHS completely agree.

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