by Clare Johnson
One of the things that makes the Tarrytown Union Free School district special is the Performing Arts Boosters program in the middle and high schools. Founded in the 1990’s by the music teachers, and a hardworking board of parent volunteers, the program raises funds for just about all programs in the music and drama departments. These funds help supply the arts program with new state-of-the-art equipment and allow music students to go on trips that they may not be able to afford.
The Performing Arts Boosters parent board is very dedicated to preserving the magic of the arts for middle and high school students. The current parent board consists of Mary Kohrherr and Jan Atkinson (co-presidents), Rachelle Gebler (secretary), and Leslie Vachon (treasurer). All parent volunteers have students that participate in the performing arts, which prompted their involvement. This spring, co-presidents Kohrherr and Atkinson and treasurer Vachonwill be graduating from the program along with their high school seniors. They have donated years of service and time to the performing arts that have greatly benefitted the lives of hundreds of arts students. The boosters also run through the help and coordination of music teacher liaisons, Micah Sprague (band teacher) and Brittney Trenzcer (orchestra teacher), who assist in organizing fundraising events such as the Santa Breakfast and Breakfast with the Easter Bunny.
The music boosters program has been tremendously successful, and the program now plays an integral role in the middle and high school performing arts department.
“I noticed right when I got here that a large number of my students couldn’t afford to rent instruments, and therefore couldn’t go on the trips. I wanted them to be able to afford the trip and be able to participate. Sleepy Hollow is the best example of what a public school has to offer,” Trenzcer said.
Kohrherr added, “The most rewarding aspect of participating in this organization is the success of the Winter Blues concert. With money raised from that, we were able to spend $15,000 to renovate the grand piano in the high school auditorium.”
Atkinson, who has been involved in the program for six years, said, “It’s great to have such a big community that supports the arts in our school district including even families whose kids are not involved.”
The Boosters host two annual concerts: Winter Blues (a jazz fundraiser) and Spring Harmony (a classical music fundraiser that works in collaboration with the Hudson Valley Wind Ensemble). Proceeds from the concerts have provided a great deal of money to invest in various types of new musical equipment, replacement equipment, and scholarships for students.
“We’ve fundraised about $100,000 worth of new equipment since I’ve joined the program,” said Sprague. These funds have gone toward both the drama department and the music department.
“We’ve been able to provide a wish-list for the department. We also renovated the costume department. We have been able to give a lot to the middle and high school shows,” TheKohrherr said.
Performing Arts Boosters has recently been granted a not-for-profit organization title by the IRS which means they will now be able to apply for grants and scholarships.
One of the best features of the Performing Arts Boosters is that parent volunteers and arts students work side by side, and develop positive relationships with each other. Many of the parents involved have watched these students grow throughout middle school and high school. As the kids grow, they take become active in the Boosters events, waiting on people at the Santa and Easter Bunny Breakfasts, and helping sell tickets and food at concerts and shows.
“It’s really fun to see the kids in a different environment outside the classroom,” said Sprague. “The kids really are the ones who run these events, and to see how responsible they can be running them is quite impressive.”
Sprague said, “All the growth that the Performing Arts Boosters program has experienced throughout the years with students, staff, and parent volunteers would not have been possible without Mary and Jan. They make it a very rewarding place for music teachers to work.”
“We are very sorry to be leaving, but it’s been absolutely rewarding and we’re so glad to have done it,”Kohrherr said.
The new parent board will consist of Alexa Brandenburg and Amy White (co-presidents), Mary Lazin and Rebecca Scarpati (co vice-presidents), and Rachelle Gebler, who will continue as secretary. For more information about and to join the Performing Arts Boosters, see http://shhs-arts-boosters.weebly.com/ .