front page - search - community 

Eagle Scout project gives D.C. schools band instruments
(Published March 8, 2004)

A Delaware high school student traveled to the District March 2 to donate about 50 band instruments to D.C. Public Schools as part of his Eagle Scout project.

"I wanted to help an organization," said David Kirk, 18, during the afternoon presentation at Bell Multicultural Senior High School in Northwest Washington. "As someone who loves music, helping other people to be able to perform was perfect."

Kirk, who plays clarinet and saxophone for his high school’s band in Wilmington, said he began his project after talking with his band director about music programs affected by budget cuts. Music education programs and marching bands in the District’s public schools have been forced for years to raise most of their funding from private sources.

With the help of schools, churches, neighbors and music stores, Kirk collected more than 50 instruments, 700 books of music and band uniforms to donate to D.C. public schools.

He donated the instruments to Community Help In Music Education (CHIME), a nonprofit organization that works to keep music programs in D.C. schools. CHIME plans to distribute the instruments to four high schools – Bell, Ballou, Wilson and Woodson – which will be able to choose which instruments they need.

"They’re all used instruments. For the most part, they’re in good shape," Kirk said.

Kirk and his parents, along with Kirk’s band director and two band members, delivered the items in three vehicles.

Bell band director Rudy Gonzalez, Wilson band director Daryl White and Ballou band director Darrell Watson gathered at Bell to meet Kirk and accept his donation.

Watson presented Kirk with a medal and named him an honorary member of his school’s marching band.

Gonzalez said his school appreciates Kirk’s donation. "We’ll be able to use [the instruments] right away because we don’t have much," he said.

Kirk also met with Bell’s band members.

The donation could not have happened without a team effort, Kirk said.

"I contacted CHIME myself," Kirk said, "but my band director gave me a list of schools, and I had help from a lot of people gathering and organizing the instruments."

CHIME founder Dorothy Marschak called the project "an incredible story." She said the four high schools that accepted the donated items expressed interest, but other schools can also be included in the project by notifying CHIME.

The instruments were transferred from Kirk’s caravan into a school system truck and taken to a warehouse, where they will be evaluated, repaired if necessary and then distributed to the schools, Marschak said. –By Julia Bilz

Copyright 2004, The Common Denominator