The Veazie Community School has received two grants from the Walmart Corporation, totaling $31,000, for their music program.

As a former flute and piano player, I'm a huge supporter of music in the schools. So I was happy that we were able to chat on the air with Veazie's music teacher, Mike Arell about his quest to find new or gently used instruments or financial donations to help encourage kids to take part in the school's music programs. Some kids who want to take part are unable because their parents can't afford the instruments (which can be pretty pricey), and others aren't interested in the traditional band or orchestra format. For the latter, Arell had started a 'rock band' type program, and so also needed guitars, amps, etc.

The school's message moved beyond Maine and, soon, musical instruments and cash started pouring in from all over the country, including Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Michigan, Utah, and Colorado. Arell took it a step farther by applying for various music program grants and one of the efforts that came through was in the form of a $1,000 check from Bangor Walmart Supercenter. That was exciting, and Arell and the students were very grateful, but the retailer wasn't done yet. Walmart Corporation had noticed the national attention the story was getting and authorized an additional grant of $30,000. This is the first time that the Bangor store has presented such a major award, and Veazie Community School is the only school in the state to receive this large amount from any Walmart store this year.

The effort is working, as Arell reports about 70% of all 3rd-8th grade students have chosen to participate in band class, and about 50% of all 6th-8th grade students participate in chorus class. What a wonderful example Arell has set for his students, to go after what you want. Congratulations to Mike Arell, his students, and the Veazie Community School. And thank you for recognizing the value of music in your school.