By: Michael Hennessey
HIGH POINT, N.C. — Depending on what time you walk into the band room at the Welborn Academy of Science and Technology, you could come across what sounds like a jumbled mess of an array of instruments with students adjusting their hands and sometimes feet to hit the perfect note.
But, when the middle school students begin to play in unison this month, you’ll immediately recognize one of the most well-known songs of the season.
“I was looking at Christmas concert songs and one of the kids was like, ‘Well, it’s Halloween,’” said Welborn Academy Band Director Justin Hector.
On the final day of September, Hector handed the students the sheet music for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Five days later, the students had all but mastered about half of the Halloween classic.
“I take their interests and my interests and we tie them together and we come up with what works,” Hector said.
But, if not for a grant from the High Point Community Foundation, none of this would be possible.
“There may be like two kids in there that personally own their instruments,” Hector said, adding that without the grant, more than 50 of his students wouldn’t have instruments. “Other than that, everything came from the grant.”
As the students work to meet the tempo of the song, their principal, Dr. Ashauna Harris, nods her head in approval—and enjoyment.
“It is incredibly important to be able to express yourself, especially in an artistic way,” Harris said.
Harris says the grant was made in the spring and was used towards the end of the last school year and the beginning of the current one.
“We got some violins, some guitars, some recorders, trumpets, trombones, saxophones,” Hector added.
The grant also provides funds for repairing broken instruments.
“As you can imagine middle schoolers can tear them up,” Harris said, laughing.
Harris adds encore, expressive classes such as band are often a motivator for students to show up to school.
“Sometimes that one connection can get them here into the building so that we can teach them and expand their life opportunities,” she said. “They look forward to it so much, that when they get into trouble, we want to make sure that’s the one thing that we take away.”
Upon realizing the students had learned half of “Thriller” in a matter of days, Harris expressed her excitement.
“That makes you think about, what else can we tie into band that ties into math, that ties into history and lots of different classes,” she said.
For more information on the High Point Community Foundation, click https://www.hpcommunityfoundation.org/.