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A musical gift for BCSD

Anonymous donor gives $13,000 to Bethlehem High string program

Bethlehem seniors Aria Shi, left, and Elaine Kehoe represented Bethlehem Central High School this year in honor ensembles of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Winter Conference in Rochester. The high school’s string program recently received a $13,000 check from an anonymous donor.

Bethlehem seniors Aria Shi, left, and Elaine Kehoe represented Bethlehem Central High School this year in honor ensembles of the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Winter Conference in Rochester. The high school’s string program recently received a $13,000 check from an anonymous donor.

— The musically inclined at Bethlehem Central High School have reason to celebrate after an anonymous donor presented the district with a $13,000 check for the purchase of music equipment.

The Bethlehem Central Board of Education accepted the donation at its Wednesday, Jan. 8, meeting. The money was given by an anonymous donor through the Bethlehem Community Foundation.

“We are always happy to receive donations,” said Dave Norman, supervisor of the district’s music department. “Because of budgets what they are and the equipment we need being expensive, any time we get something like this, it’s helpful.”

According to Norman, more than 1,100 students within the district participate in instrumental ensembles. He called the music program “healthy,” but said most parents can expect out-of-pocket expenses if their children wish to pursue playing an instrument.

“We don’t have a large inventory available for the students,” said Norman. “We tend to provide the larger instruments so they don’t have to or for those who can’t bring them on the bus. Some smaller instruments can be used by us for a fee, but most need to be rented.”

The community foundation first approached the music department about the donation at the beginning of the year. Music staff were told they could use the money in any way they wished, but that the donor was interested in the district’s string program and specifically had an affinity for the viola.

About 120 students in the high school play a string instrument.

Norman said the high school string section was in need of bows, strings and cases, all of which sound mundane, but can be costly. The department estimated the new equipment would cost $9,000, so they returned their request to the community foundation.

“We weren’t expecting the larger sum,” said Norman. “We now have an additional $4,000 and the flexibility to do with it what we wish.”

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