Boosters step up for Dallas school bands

DALLAS -- Mike Hettwer, band teacher at LaCreole Middle School and Dallas High School, is a busy man.

DALLAS -- Mike Hettwer, band teacher at LaCreole Middle School and Dallas High School, is a busy man.

He teaches all instrumental music at both schools, totaling six classes, and leads pep bands at Dallas games.

Beyond his teaching duties, he is in charge of maintaining uniforms, instruments, preparing bands for competition, and organizing field trips.

A group of parents of band students

thought that was too much for one teacher. So, in September 2009, they launched the Dallas Bands Boosters.

"We thought he needed support to keep the programs as good as they are and improve them," said Adele Schepige, the club's president.

Tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 20) the club is holding a meeting to plan its fundraising schedule for the 2010-11 school year. Schepige said the meeting is open to anyone willing to support the program.

The club raises money for field trips, traveling to competitions, uniform and instrument repair, and paying for professional musicians to hold workshops with students.

But the club is trying to raise more than just money.

"It's helping get other parents involved," Hettwer said.

Schepige said the goal was to bring together parents of band students to have them work together for a common cause.

While supporting the upper-level programs is the focus, members also are interested in helping bring music back into the elementary schools after funding was cut for this year.

"If you lose all music at the elementary level, it's really hard to start in the sixth grade," Schepige said.

Hettwer agreed, saying students who aren't exposed to music at a young age miss out on learning music fundamentals and history before reaching middle school.

Elaine Ferguson, the club's secretary, said one event already is scheduled, "Jazz Nite," a repeat of last spring's successful concert. She said as often as they can, the club likes to give the students chances to participate in fundraisers.

"We try to think of ways that students can perform," said Ferguson. "That's what music is about."

More fundraising options will be discussed tonight.

"I think they are ready to do a lot more this year," Hettwer said.

Money raised last year will be used this spring to take the Dallas High School Band on a field trip to Disneyland to play at Magic Music Days May 20-23.

Schepige said allowing band students opportunities to participate in enriching musical experiences was the purpose of forming the group.

Parent support couldn't have come at a better time, either.

Hettwer will have his plate even fuller as 150 students are enrolled in the middle school band program this year.

"That's more than we've had in a long time," Hettwer said, adding he thinks students are starting to take notice of the program. "The high school band is doing a pretty good job and that trickles down."

The Dallas Band Boosters will meet tonight at 6:15 p.m. in the Dallas High band room.


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