2018-06-24 / News

STC students help music program in Amazon jungle

By Mandilee Hecht
Staff Reporter

Karen Giomar Guerra, 10, is one of several students in a remote village in Peru who now has the opportunity to play a musical instrument, thanks in part, to some eighth-grade students from Thurston Middle School in St. Charles and their teacher Beth Moeller.Courtesy Photo Karen Giomar Guerra, 10, is one of several students in a remote village in Peru who now has the opportunity to play a musical instrument, thanks in part, to some eighth-grade students from Thurston Middle School in St. Charles and their teacher Beth Moeller.
Courtesy Photo
ST. CHARLES – A teacher from Thurston Middle School in St. Charles and her eighth grade students were acknowledged recently from a location over 3,000 miles away.

Fernando Saavedra, head of the CONAPAC Amazon Library, located in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, and some of his students reached out to Beth Moeller and her students recently thanking them for their efforts in donating band instruments for their program.

In a letter sent to the school, Saavedra thanked their efforts and included example letters and photos from some band students there positively affected by the donation.

The letter was also acknowledged by St. Charles Community Schools’ Board of Education during its last meeting Wednesday, June 20.

In the letter Saavedra wrote, “Our goal is to complement local education through a reading program accompanied by some other fun but educational activities and workshops. We serve some small villages in the Peruvian rural basin of the Amazon river. The closest city Iquitos is located 80 Km. up river. Our users are normally kids and teens from 6 to 20 years old, who belong to the most underserved part of the population of the country.”

“One of our most thrilling and challenging programs which we are leading since the past year is the Music Program,” he said in the letter. “We started looking for donations of some clarinets, trumpets, saxophones, and others alike.”

He said one by one instrument donations from various places began trickling in.

“Then, something miraculous happened,” he said.

“You, Mrs. Beth Moeller and the eighth-grade class of Thurston Middle School, decided to support us running an auction to raise funds to buy instruments for our music program.”

Moeller explained that during the summer of 2016 she took part in the Educator Academy in the Amazon during which teachers from around the country gathered for professional development related to science.

The program was held in a remote region only accessible by boat with the closest city over two hours away, she said.

Moeller explained that since 1999 The Detroit Zoo has partnered with an agency in Peru to help Amazon communities with education and conservation.

“That partnership has also led to a small library being established in the region where the Educator Academy is held. The library mainly serves students ages 6 to 20,” she said.

“After meeting the librarian during my visit in 2016, I stayed in contact through email. I learned that the library was starting to offer music lessons to students in nearby villages. They had already received a donation of a couple clarinets and trumpets and had a music instructor making the trek to the library a few times a week to give lessons.”

The vast interest students there were showing in the music program prompted the program to seek more donations of instruments.

Moeller asked her St. Charles students if they would be interested in fundraising for the Peruvian students and she said they were interested.

They hosted a silent auction last fall during which items such as student artwork, bird feeders and games were sold. The auction raised $100, enough to purchase a used clarinet and trumpet that were in need of repairs.

After learning that the repairs would be too expensive to fix, Moeller said she reached out to Marshall Music, who volunteered to only charge for materials and donate the labor for free.

“This made it possible for us to be able to afford to fix the two instruments we had purchased. In addition, Marshall Music donated several other used instruments. We transported all of the instruments to the Detroit Zoo,” Moeller said.

“From there, volunteers have transported several of the instruments to Peru. The rest of the instruments will be delivered later this year as other travelers make the journey to the Amazon.”

With the help of Marshall Music, the eighth graders were able to send 11 instruments total.

“The lives of 11 Amazon boys and girls will be boosted in a very positive way,” Saavedra said.

“We cannot say yet if they will become professional musicians. But we can be certain that what they are learning with the help of these instruments is adding a high-quality feature in their personalities and lives. Thank you so much, Mrs. Moeller, and boys and girls from the eighth-grade class for this wonderful token of generosity and solidarity.”

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