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Highland Elementary School in Columbia Heights was recently awarded a VH1 Save the Music Foundation Intro to Music grant. The grant will help the school provide several new instruments and method books to students.

Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Schools

A new sound is coming to Highland Elementary School in Columbia Heights.

The PreK through grade 5 school was awarded an Intro to Music grant by the VH1 Save the Music Foundation that will provide new resources such as instruments, method books and more to support and modernize school music education programs.

“Nationwide, music teachers are worried about their programs due to COVID-19 and its impact on music-making,” Highland Elementary music teacher Lindsay Borsky said. “This grant, and the support from ISD13 leadership, has demonstrated a commitment to the arts.”

The grant package is worth $22,000 and lists a specific package of instruments, including xylophones, ukuleles, recorders, a teacher keyboard and guitar and smaller handheld instruments. There will also be new method books and program support for 10 years, allowing the school to vastly expand its music lessons.

“It is meant for music programs that are either just starting or in need of updating,” Borsky said. “Since our instruments and classroom materials were quite old, we felt it was appropriate to apply. We also have a second general music teacher at Highland, Mr. Keseley, and the two of us have been sharing instruments and supplies. With the help from this grant, Mr. Keseley’s music room will have a lot more instruments and materials.

“I think that third through fifth-graders will be really excited about the ukuleles! Kindergarteners and first-graders will also be excited about all of the new instruments in Mr. Keseley’s music room.”

Several staff members and administrators played a part in the process, from locating the opportunity to then making contributions throughout the application process.

Now, the current generation of Highland Elementary students will get a chance to experience updated equipment and curriculum while enjoying music classes.

“Save the Music advertised the grant and it seemed like a great opportunity for our schools,” Borsky said. “The application for the grant was fairly straightforward. As a music team, we are very thankful for the work that Ben Hanson, Tara Thukral, Zena Stenvik and Michele Janke put into the grant over the summer.”

The grant is limited to one school per district. The choice was made during this process to select Highland Elementary, with the hope that more schools in the district could be chosen in the future as well.

“We chose Highland because of our second music teacher, who does not have his own instruments,” Borsky said. “We are excited to explore additional grant-matching options so that Valley View and North Park can receive the same package that Highland did!”

The Columbia Heights district also received a VH1 grant in 2009.

The Save the Music Foundation is a nonprofit organization seeking to help support and jumpstart music programs in public schools.

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