The Pride Of Capitol Hill: Eastern High School Band Needs Funding

By: Meldon Dickens II

Eastern Senior High School band requested financial aid from Ward 6 in order to cover the cost of replacing supplies for the marching band.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission for Ward 6A convened on Thursday night to discuss several issues, including Eastern Senior High School’s grant application for the amount of $1,421.60 to cover replacement supplies for the marching band.

According to USNEWS, Eastern has an entire population of economically disadvantaged students and is a Title I school. Eastern’s marching band, nicknamed the Eastern Senior High School Blue and White Marching Machine, performances locally around Capitol Hill, but they also travel nationally and have marched in three presidential inaugurations.

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Some residents of Ward 6 consider the marching band to be a true treasure. “Everybody loves them. They always stop and stare to watch the band march, and they just have their mouths gaping in awe,” said Heather Schoell, a parent of a student in the Eastern High School band. “The band pretty much never hesitates to come and perform when they are called.”

Even with consistent achievements, the band still struggled to cover the costs of operation. “We need the money for the spats, reeds, mouthpieces, valve oil, caps, and other band supplies that need to be replaced,” said Veronica Hollmon, who represented Eastern High where her daughter attends.

Eastern High’s marching band director James Perry outlined in his official grant request form that Eastern is one of the premier marching bands in the city. He said the band wants to continue to promote their legacy of Patience, Respect, Integrity, Determination, and Excellence (PRIDE). To do this, Perry said an amount of almost $1500 in funds was required.

But not all ANC members shared this view.“So, we just started a new fiscal year, and the amount of aid that Eastern is asking for is over a third of our total budget of $4,000. We can’t give that much aid up so early in the fiscal year,” said Phil Toomajian, chair of Ward 6A’s ANC. “I suggest we approve a grant of $1,000 to Eastern’s band to offer up a great help, and you can make up the dividends elsewhere.”

Although Toomajian’s motion to provide an amount of $1,000 was seconded by Commissioner Stephanie Zimny, not all of the ANC Commissioners agreed.

“Eastern brings so much to the community, and they really do not ask us for money often at all,” said Sondra Phillips-Gilbert, another ANC Commissioner. “I don’t think they have asked for any grants in years.”

The ANC previously provided aid to the Eastern High School Band to be able to buy new instruments back in 2012, five years prior to this new grant application the band submitted on Oct.17 of this year.

“Most of our grants are probably $500-750 in size and oftentimes projects are also funded by other adjacent ANCs, the Capitol Hill Community foundation, or direct fundraising by the organization itself,” said Toomajian. “Over a third of our budget can not be sacrificed in the first month of the fiscal year.”

Deliberation continued however, as Hollman said if the grant was not requested, then it could affect how they are viewed by the public. “We do not want to give a perception of unfairness within the ANC. If some grants are approved from the same schools every year, it can be seen as unfair to limit the amount or deny grants for other schools. I don’t want that to deter people from trying,” said Hollman.

According to Toomajian, the ANC supports Eliot Hine Middle School, Maury Elementary, Miner Elementary, and Ludlow Taylor Elementary on a regular basis.

The ANC was still divided on whether or not to approve a grant in full or give partial aid to the band. When the motion seemed to be at an impasse, the funding was accumulated when the board approved a commitment to a grant amount of $1,000 and two personal donations of $200 were made to bring the total of aid to $1400 in support of the marching band.

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