BY AMANDA MOSES
On Friday, May 13th, students at Frederick Douglass Academy VIII (FDA VIII) received the surprise of a lifetime—$42,000 worth of musical instruments from StubHub and The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. Faculty and staff gathered the entire student body in the gymnasium for “a school assembly.” However, when Principal Chantal Grandchamps addressed the school, commending the children on their continuous hard work and talent, she announced the grand surprise. “We discover who we are through music. Music helps us celebrate, mourn, heal, learn, grow and love. That is why we must keep music alive here at FDA VIII. Today we are celebrating our love of music through the accomplishments of our string scholars and our talented music teacher, Mr. Jamaal Jones,” Grandchamps said.
According to Jessica Erskine, the Head of SubHub’s Entertainment Communications, the donation is a part of the company’s non-profit program, Next Stage Social Good, which aims to distribute $1 million worth of instruments to public schools across the United States within one year. “We want to support music in schools, and we hope this donations allows the students to feel that their dreams are supported, and that they can be involved in music without any barriers stopping them,” she said. Erskine also announced that FDA VIII was the final school, and the only one in New York City, to receive the contribution.
StubHub’s initiative has donated about 817 instruments to students across the country. Jones said that their donation of 52 string instruments would allow students to practice at home. He explained that when he arrived at FDA VIII, a few years ago, there were only 10 violins and 28 students. “The students would have to share the instruments, and over the years we have come so far. With this donation we now have a full string ensemble, and the students can take their instruments home,” he said.
Before Jones unveiled the instruments to the student body, he brought members of his class to the front of the stage, so that they can perform a string rendition of “Palladio.” With six students on violins, and one playing the cello, their performance displayed to all that their new instruments will be put to good use in furthering their musical talents.
In addition to the donation, StubHub invited The X Ambassadors, a well renowned alternative rock band, for a surprise performance. When lead singer Sam Harris and drummer Adam Levin walked onto the stage, the crowd of students erupted in screams of excitement and applause.
Violin in hand, Jones joined the band during their performance of the hit “Renegades.” Students watched in awe as their music teacher played the Billboard Rock Chart hit with the iconic band.
After the show, Harris and Levin spoke to the Spring Creek Sun about their advice to students and the events goals: “We want students to know that anything is possible. We started out playing music in school. That was the first place any of us picked up an instrument. School is a great place to nurture that experience, and to really figure out how to play these instruments and play in a group with other people and work together. Really, ultimately, we want them to see that anything is possible,” said Harris.
Photos by Amanda Moses