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New Grants Help to Enrich Student Opportunities in Somers

Kids and teacher playing ukulelesDozens of ukuleles for middle school music and a laser cutter for Fashion and textiles class are two of the newest grant awards through the Somers Education Fund (SEF).

Thanks to the foundation and Middle School Band Teacher Rachel Malara, more middle school students will have the opportunity to learn the ever-popular ukulele either during class or a WIN period.

“I wrote a grant for ukuleles several years ago to pilot a ukulele program and it has become such a valuable part of my curriculum, that our music department decided to incorporate ukuleles into the Music 7 MYP curriculum,” Malara said.

The second grant was written to expand the program into Margaret Chan and Marie Williams’ music classrooms. “We love teaching the ukulele because it enhances dexterity and hand-eye coordination and gives students a chance to interpret and decode chord charts and practice music theory.”

Middle school students collaborate at an ensemble level and explore music of other cultures that incorporates ukuleles. Williams is facilitating a student-led ukulele/guitar club that meets during WIN.

“The students are so excited about the ukulele, that they are asking to play even outside of class,” Malara said.

At the high school, a new laser cutter will offer Fashion and Textile students an additional and state-of-the-art way to express their ideas. Cutting fabrics, decorating clothing and textiles and creating accessories such as earrings or pendants are all possible with this technology. The machine was delivered last month and teacher Christine Brooks is busy setting it up and will be integrating it into her curriculum.

SEF representative Vicki Durso said the organization is thrilled to help raise funds for specific student and teacher-initiated projects that enrich the educational experience and are not funded by the district’s budget. Through the granting process, the foundation supports these endeavors to enrich the educational experience.

“The fashion cutter will provide fashion students with new opportunities and new and innovative technology,” Durso said. The new ukulele grant is an additional grant to help build the music program at SMS.  “The original set of ukuleles was a huge success to the music program. The students enjoy using them to learn more about music.”