When the Manchester Schools’ 2009-10 budget was voted down, the elementary band was one of the programs that the was forced to cut for last year.
That is when David Trethaway, Superintendent of Schools, and Tom Scharibone, music teacher at , decided something had to be done.
“The superintendent called me up, and asked me if there was anything that we could do,” Scharibone said.
There was no longer a slot for band during the school day.
“So, then I created in my mind a before-school band period, where the parents drop their kids from all of the elementary schools off at Ridgeway Elementary School at 7:30 a.m. for a 45 minute band period before school starts," Scharibone said.
Before it was cut, the band program was offered to fourth and fifth grade students, with the instructor traveling among the schools throughout the school day.
Last year, about 70 students — from Ridgeway, and elementary schools — came to him, practiced and were then bused to their schools for a normal day's worth of schoolwork.
Scaribone "is working with fifth graders in such a short amount of time and he is able to provide for them what music is all about – hard work and practice and coming together as a group and being passionate about what you do,” said Diane Pedroza, principal of Ridgeway Elementary.
Pedroza is also pleased with the job that Scharibone is doing with his students, she said.
“He has done a tremendous job with limited time and resources,” she said. “Despite that it is a morning program, and in comparison to what the program was, he is a very talented and passionate man who has really brought out the best in some of these students."
The instruments offered are guitars, drums, bass guitars, saxophones and clarinets — basically just about any instrument is in the band, Scharibone said.
“And, I have to teach all of the instruments at once,” he added.
Despite the large amount of students and the short amount of time Scharibone has with his students each morning, he added violin as a new instrument during the 2010-11 school year.
“It was not offered in the past by the old band teacher, but so many kids wanted to play it,” he said.
The band showed off for family and staff during December and April performances at Ridgeway Elementary. Parents of students interested in joining can contact their school's administration for more information.