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If you go
What: Believe in a Dream Inc. concert benefiting orchestra programs of local schools
Where: Northrop High School auditorium
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Cost: $7 for adults, $5 for students and seniors
Sarah Janssen | The Journal Gazette
Students rehearse Wednesday at Northrop High School for the Believe in a Dream Inc. concert, which will be Friday night at Northrop.

Strings attached: Concert to promote orchestra in school

A performance Friday will bring together the orchestras of seven schools in Fort Wayne Community Schools as part of an initiative that aims to expose students to new experiences.

The opportunity for middle and high school orchestra students to perform as a large group is rare, said Dean Smekens, band and orchestra teacher at Jefferson Middle School.

“It’s pretty exciting because you achieve such a huge sound,” he said.

The event Friday night at Northrop High School is organized by band directors and Believe in a Dream Inc., a nonprofit organization with the goal of providing opportunities that will affect students’ lives and, hopefully, their academics, BIAD board member Jamal Robinson said.

The organization is focusing on the exploration of music through orchestra but has other programs in the works in the areas of business education, math and science.

Robinson said the exploration of music through orchestra came about because the organization saw a need in local schools.

Students playing certain instruments could be involved in school-sponsored bands during the year, but students who play string instruments had fewer opportunities, especially as budgets for the arts in public schools have shrunk.

Every dollar of proceeds from the concert Friday will directly benefit the music programs of the schools involved, Smekens said.

“Every bit helps especially when budgets are getting cut,” Robinson said.

Once an orchestra program is cut, “it’s like a dinosaur, … you never get it back,” said Smekens, who has been with the district for about 20 years. He started at Wayne High School, which had its orchestra program canceled in 1997 and hasn’t been revived.

Initiatives like BIAD that draw attention to these programs help keep them alive, Smekens said.

Smekens said the money is used to buy and repair instruments, buy sheet music and for enrichment activities like bringing in a professional musician for a special lesson.

“I really like (BIAD) because kids who wouldn’t normally interact with one another have the chance to,” Smekens said. “It give (students) a chance to be a part of something really large.”

About 150 students, representing Snider, North Side, Northrop and South Side high schools and Lane, Jefferson and Memorial Park middle schools, are expected to perform.

The program also gives directors a chance to share music and collaborate. During the performance, school directors will take turns leading the orchestra.

“I think that makes us better directors, and it makes our programs better,” Smekens said.