We (Ginevra and Jim Ralph, Shedd and Jeff Fuller, ASMS) arrived at the incredibly beautiful Hood River Middle School, nestled between the mountains in the gorge, to a warm welcome from Shelly Toon Lindberg (AIEG, Exec. Dir.) and Brent Emmons (Principal, HRMS).  We started by sitting to discuss some of the demographic information and community information of the school and area and received an incredible overview of their program and how it fits within other school and community projects.

We then went to visit Rebecca Nederhiser’s music classroom.  They were rehearsing a show choir number and it was incredible to watch.  We were able to talk with students about the musical that had been staged that year and had the opportunity to hear about the variety of different jobs and roles that students played in preparing for and presenting the musical.  The emotional response and energy of these students was incredible.  They were so excited to share their experience, whether they were working behind the scenes or on the stage.  The relationship that exists between the school and AIEG was also evident.  There was so much love and symbiosis between the two organizations that it was evident that they work incredibly well together to do great things for this community.

We then went to visit one of the elementary schools and were able to sit through a first grade music class.  We were able to see the use of different elements and technology that had been purchased through the grant and to see how it had been used at the elementary level.  The teacher did an incredible job of mixing technology with music instruction and first grade students were able to play along with the percussion!  It was wonderful to see how the program would be sustainable because of the efforts that they have made to have an impact system wide.   By increasing the level of education provided at the elementary level, their middle and high school programs will be strengthened and then their community will be improved through a dedication to the arts.

Lunch was a great opportunity to further discuss how this grant fits within the rest of the work done by AIEG and what other grant opportunities.

After lunch we had a brief visit back at the school to see how more resources have been used.  We were able to see music software put to use as students were composing their own music.

It was great to see what we considered to be a very successful grant in which the two organizations seem to be working seemlessly.  We are looking for ways to make our program more sustainable and ways that we can work with more alignment within our organizations.  It is more challenging perhaps to be in a larger city, in which the school and the arts organization are separated and even in different communities.  Trying to take some of the things that we have learned from Hood River and incorporating them in to our program would benefit us greatly.