Daisy Garcia-Montoya
Education Reporter

Students at the Guadalupe Centers Middle School (GCMS) will have new musical instruments soon after being selected to receive a donation from The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, a national organization that focuses on music education in schools.

The national foundation helps address the lack of funding in many school music programs by donating new instruments to under-served schools.

Chase Shumsky, music professor at GCMS, said that he began to look for grant opportunities that could help increase the funds for the music program after seeing the growth of students interested in music. When he first started working at GCMS, Shumsky said there were 32 students involved in the program; now in the present day, the number has more than doubled with nearly 90 participants.

So when his mother, his former band teacher, reached out to inform him about The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation grant application, Shumsky said he looked at the criteria and felt that the GCMS fit all the requirements and decided to apply. 

The grant application process took a month to complete and was submitted in August 2022 with news of the award coming in the beginning of February 2023. When news arrived that GCMS had been selected for the grant, Shumsky said he couldn’t believe it.

“I ran out of my classroom and just needed to tell as many people as possible,” he said. “So super excited, really kind of in disbelief, but also just thankful and super grateful that this is just going to present so many more opportunities for our students.”

With the new instruments, the music program hopes to be able to expand to an after-school program in the near future. Currently, students interested in music can only be involved during the school day and are not able to take instruments home for extra practice. 

The grant will provide GCMS with a total of 35 brand new instruments and 18 new mouthpieces, bringing the total value of the grant to $29,000.

“We believe in supporting schools that recognize the importance of music education for their

students,” said Felice Mancini, President and CEO of The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. “To give more kids the experience of making music in school is more important than ever and giving teachers quality instruments makes a huge difference. The benefits are tremendous.”

With the help from the grant, the program will no longer have to cap its total participants and instead hopes to expand to about 100 students, given the recent growth in interest. 

Shumsky said that, had they not received the grant, he knows the GCMS community would’ve found a way to support the growing interest in the music program and maintain its success, but that receiving the grant alleviates that worry.

“I know we have a super-growing Latino population in the United States so it’s very important to me that I’m building this community up and helping them find their voice in this country,” Shumsky said. “I’m truly trying to train the leaders for this country in the future. Music is the way I do that by giving students opportunities, confidence, really just hope that they can do something that is bigger than themselves is really my biggest mission behind all of it. This grant just ensures that we can get closer to that vision at the end of it.”

As GCMS works with The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to finalize the grant agreement, the instruments are expected to arrive before the end of the academic year.