With instruments in their hands, dozens of student musicians stood on the North Side High School auditorium stage Wednesday as Chuck Surack announced he and his wife will donate $500,000 to the Fort Wayne Community Schools Foundation “b instrumental” program.
The Sweetwater founder and president hopes theirs won't be the only donation to the program, which provides musical instruments to middle school students to use throughout high school.
The “Chuck and Lisa Surack and Sweetwater Challenge” will match donations from the community and officially launches a $3 million fundraising campaign for “b instrumental.”
The Wayne High School alumnus said he received all his musical education through FWCS and experienced how important music education is to creating well-rounded and successful individuals.
He listed many benefits of learning an instrument. It promotes craftsmanship, teaches children about teamwork, builds confidence and self-esteem, relieves stress and helps with memorization and math skills, he said.
“What I learned as a music student has sustained me throughout my life. Both in my business career and my personal life, music has been incredibly important,” he said in a statement. “That's why my wife, Lisa, and I are committed to this campaign to significantly increase the number of students involved in music at Fort Wayne Community Schools.”
Achieving the $3 million goal will let the foundation purchase 4,000 to 5,000 instruments over 12 years and cover refurbishing and repairs.
The Suracks also donated 100 instruments.
The “b instrumental” program began at Lakeside, Miami and Shawnee middle schools and is expanding this year to Lane and Northwood middle schools.
North Side senior Grace Henschen, who plays clarinet, described the announcement as exciting. Having more instruments for students should help build the music programs, she said.
FWCS has committed $1.5 million to the program in addition to the $3 million campaign, Superintendent Wendy Robinson said. The arts are important toward educating the whole child, she said, and provided an example of the dedication music students have.
“Guess who's still at school after the football team leaves,” she said. “The band.”
For more information, including how to donate, go to www.fwcsfoundation.org.