Clayton schools’ receive fine arts grant

Two Clayton County schools will receive new musical instruments as well as money to repair old instruments, according to Sean Terrell, orchestra director and fine arts department chairman at Forest Park High School.

He announced that the fine arts programs at Forest Park High School and Babb Middle School have been awarded a “prestigious” Mr. Holland's Opus Grant for the 2011-2012 school year.

“This grant, which is funded by public and private donations, will help [create] educational opportunities for more students in our schools,” said Terrell.

According to its web site, The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation seeks to keep music alive in schools and communities by donating musical instruments to under-funded music programs, giving youngsters the many benefits of music education, and helping them to be better students.

The foundation’s motto, according to the web site, is that “Kids thrive when given the chance to learn and play music. Putting an instrument into their hands improves the quality of their education and their lives.”

Terrel said that, during the application process, the teachers, administrators and the school superintendent, were all involved. He added that it took more than two months of research, development and discussion to complete.

“We are very proud of this, and again, would like to share this combined accomplishment with our community,” he said.

According to the foundation’s web site, a school must submit a pre-qualification form, and if the program meets the guidelines, the school can apply for a grant of instruments and/or repairs to instruments already in its inventory.

Applications are reviewed by the Grant Committee once each year, based on the following criteria: Schools must demonstrate financial need, and have students who are from low-income families; have an established music program and strong participation; show administrative support of the program; have knowledgeable and professional teachers; and present a compelling case for how the grant will benefit the students.

The web site noted that the foundation was inspired by the 1995 motion picture “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” starring Richard Dreyfuss. The story is about the profound effect a dedicated music teacher –– Dreyfuss –– had on generations of students. The film's composer, Michael Kamen, started the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation in 1996, as his commitment to the future of music education.

Each year, an average of 10,000 youngsters across the country benefit from The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation’s programs, the web site stated.