The community of East Lansing will have the chance to enjoy some impromptu, “surprise” concert venues within their own homes and lawns this coming Sunday, September 28, 2014. For four hours during their annual “Night Out” Fundraiser, groups of four to five East Lansing High School (ELHS) orchestra or band students will join parent volunteers as they “carol” at various homes in the area, providing entertainment and asking for donations to the ELHS music program.
Organized and hosted by The East Lansing Band and Orchestra Parents Association (ELBOPA), Night Out is one of the ELHS music programs’ greatest sources of revenue, indicates ELHS Orchestra Director David Rosin. That money is used to benefit the program as a whole, providing uniforms, musical guests, sectional coaches, and specially composed musical scores for specific events. LaVendee Fulton, ELBOPA President, confirms that over $7,000 was raised during last year’s Night Out event.
A tradition for over 25 years, student and parent participation in ELBOPA’s Night Out has increased as band and orchestra enrollment grows. Approximately 105-115 students will be participating in the 2014-2015 event, encompassing roughly 50% of the ELHS band and orchestra student body says Rosin. He indicates that not only do the student participants enjoy this evening, but that community response is overwhelmingly positive. Some groups have even been asked to return to perform at other events such as weddings or birthday celebrations.
Fulton’s family will be participating in their fifth year of Night Out this Sunday. She says the routes and homes assigned to performing student groups are “predominantly random”, though as word gets out, requests have rolled in recently. ELBOPAs ability to accommodate such requests is “limited, of course, by the number of volunteers and students who participate.”
Student performers enjoy their time interacting with community members, many of whom were connected at one time with the ELHS band or orchestra through a child, a neighbor, or extended family member. While debriefing after last year’s Night Out performances, Fulton indicates her group of ELHS band members were excited by a particularly poignant moment where they were invited into an East Lansing home to perform for an entire extended family. The students played several songs in the dining room, while cousins, grandparents, and adult siblings sat around their table, clapping and applauding. Fulton says this is the point of the event; she reiterates, “More than the money [raised], Night Out is about human connection, sharing, and joy.”
Disclosure: Rebecca J. McAndrews has two children who attend East Lansing Public Schools and is a substitute teacher for the district.
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