Orchestra must raise funds for trip

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NATCHEZ — One group of young local musicians is in danger of missing out on an opportunity that won’t likely come around again.

The 22 students that make up the Robert Lewis Middle School Orchestra were selected to participate in the National Orchestra Festival. But unless the group can come up with more than $2,000 by Wednesday — it’s not likely they’ll make it.

The group needs a $3,250 deposit, right now they have little more than $1,000.

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“They all worked really hard,” orchestra director Shawn Smith said.

And what the band achieved was no small feat.

Smith said he was not aware of any other schools in the state there were invited, and nationwide just 20 other schools were asked to attend.

Smith said the group has considered fundraising but a misplaced message got the registration information to Smith too late.

Smith has attempted to raise the money directly from the parents but he said most of them were unable to afford the $175 per child needed to cover the fee.

“It’s frustrating,” Smith said of the situation.

And right now there isn’t much Smith can do but hope.

“When I made the budget I had no idea we’d make it,” he said of the competition.

And it’s still unclear what type of assistance the school district will be able to offer.

The Natchez-Adams School District has committed funding to the project but more is needed, Smith said.

Superintendent Anthony Morris said he has not had contact with Smith about the issue, but thinks the district can offer some funding.

However the district would not likely pay the entire registration fee, Morris said.

But even with any assistance the district provides, the orchestra still has a long road ahead.

The total cost to participate is approximately $13,000 with the next payment coming in December.

Smith said he’s confident that if Wednesday’s payment is met the orchestra will ultimately make the trip.

Anyone wanting to make a donation can do so at P.O. Box 198, at the Natchez Post Office.

Checks should be made payable to the Orchestra Booster Club.