A small ceremony was held at Thompson Middle School on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate a recent donation made to support music programs at Newport Public Schools’.

Jay Sweet, Executive Producer of Newport Festivals Foundation; Members of Newport School Committee; Ian O’Neil, Guitarist for Deer Tick, and several faculty from Newport Public Schools were on hand to acknowledge and celebrate a recent contribution of $10,000 to Newport Festivals Foundation by Dennis and Beverlee Taber in honor of her grandfather, Ray G. Groff Sr., former Band Instructor at Rogers High School.

The donation helps support Newport Festivals Foundation’s commitment to support the music programs at all three public schools in the Newport School District.

During the event, those in attendance were able to view a plaque that was recently placed outside of two music rooms at Thompson Middle School that acknowledges the Taber’s contribution and support.

The plaque reads “We gratefully acknowledge the contributions made to the music programs at Newport Public Schools by Dennis and Beverlee Taber in honor of her Grandfather, Ray G. Groff Sr., former Band Instructor at Rogers High School”.

NFF says that they have been working directly with the music teachers from Pell Elementary, Thompson Middle, and Rogers High School to identify their needs and establish how the funds will be used.

“Our mission as a nonprofit is to expand the impact of our festivals through music education and that begins in our hometown of Newport,” said Sweet.  “This is not just a one off — this is a long-term commitment to the town. As long as our festivals call Newport home, we’ll do what we can to ensure every public school student has access to outstanding music education.”

At Pell Elementary School, funds will be used to purchase a music software program designed to introduce elementary school kids to the basic principles of rhythm and melody. At Thompson Middle School, youth size KORG keyboards were purchased to help students learn piano. At Rogers High School, funds will be used to repair instruments. 

NFF’s goal is provide financial support to each school with the hope of ensuring every student in the district has access to quality music education.

Diane Sheehan, Supervisor of the Arts at Newport Public Schools, shared, “On behalf of the Music Department at Pell Elementary, Thompson Middle School and Rogers High School, we are extremely thankful for the exciting opportunity to obtain music software programs, electronic keyboards, and instrument repair for our music classes this coming school year. This type of community outreach and student engagement creates the spark that every child needs to connect and appreciate music throughout their lifetime.  Newport Festivals Foundation is instilling an atmosphere of love of music and ‘hands-on’ musical synergy with their philanthropic generosity to Newport Public Schools. The Foundation will never know ALL the musical triumphs etched in every child attending our public school system and we can’t thank them enough for their substantial support.”  

A portion of the funds raised from last weekend’s Newport Folk Presents aftershows will also be dedicated to supporting the program.

For more information on Newport Festivals Foundation education initiatives, visit www.newportfestivals.org.

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