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Boonsboro boosts N.O. band

September 04, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

BOONSBORO - When Kathy DeJean got the e-mail that a middle school in Boonsboro was offering 50 to 75 band uniforms to her arts students at Lusher Charter School in New Orleans, it was a dream born of the nightmare that was Hurricane Katrina.

"And then, when we learned the uniforms were mostly royal blue, we were thrilled - those are our school colors," DeJean said.

The arts coordinator at the devastated school has been on the faculty for 17 years.

The New Orleans school was flooded two years ago when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast with all its fury.

"What wasn't lost in the floodwaters was lost to mold, mildew or theft," she said.

Beth Rockwell, president of the Boonsboro band boosters, said fellow booster Kristy Smith had some contacts in Louisiana through her church, Trinity Lutheran in Boonsboro.

"I dealt with a parish there and then I got in touch with their board of education and our offer was passed on," Smith said.

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The Lusher Charter School was the first to respond.

"We got nibbles from other schools, but Lusher had already contacted us," Smith said.

The uniforms were available because of a domino effect begun two years ago when Boonsboro High School received new band uniforms, Rockwell said. The old high school uniforms were given to the middle school, she said.

Mike Beeler, band director at Boonsboro Middle School, sought and received permission for the transfer of the uniforms from Rob Hovermale, coordinator of visual and performing arts for Washington County Public Schools.

Perhaps percussion

Smith said there are plans to send some "gently used" percussion instruments along with the uniforms.

The band boosters will accept donations to help offset the cost of shipping, Smith said. Rockwell said boosters will be putting out jars at the school concession stands to raise those needed funds.

Sometime this week, Smith said, boosters will get together at the middle school to inventory the uniforms and prepare them for shipping.

Lusher Charter School, which has had to relocate its students twice, has a huge music program, but there were no uniforms. The orchestra and jazz groups were wearing all black as their only alternative for a coordinated look, DeJean said.

After being flooded out of the first school, DeJean said the educational process was shut down for a while until students could be accommodated in another older building.

In the summer of 2006, students moved into the building they are now using, although construction in that building is ongoing, DeJean said.

"But now, we can expand our music program," DeJean said.

DeJean said the kindness demonstrated by Boonsboro Middle School personnel and the band boosters has kept her spirits high.

Those involved in the process in Boonsboro have also reveled in the good feelings that have sprung from the endeavor.

"The last thing a band parent (or) booster in Louisiana needs to worry about right now is selling hoagies or wrapping paper to raise uniform money," Smith said.

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