JPS Collects Instruments For Program

Joseph Pawelski, treasurer of the Promise Fund and Jamestown Board of Education member; Bret Apthorpe, superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools; and Suzanne Fassett, director of music education at Chautauqua Institution. P-J Photo by Jordan W. Patterson

CHAUTAUQUA – Equipped with a red Jamestown School District van and an optimistic spirit, Superintendent Bret Apthorpe traveled to Chautauqua Institution hoping to collect donations for the local Jamestown Schools Promise Fund.

Jamestown Public Schools and Chautauqua Institution partnered together in support of the Promise Fund’s initiative for collecting used musical instruments and supporting the district’s music program. A music program drive is being held on Sept. 8 from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. when officials will be accepting instrument and financial donations in front of Jamestown High School.

The Promise Fund was created in 2015 with the goal of helping Jamestown youth. Most notably, the Promise Fund helped create and continues to provide funding for the Summer LitCamp program for the last two years. The camp, focusing on literacy, was held at Ring and Love Elementary schools and Fletcher Middle School this summer.

“The Promise Fund, more or less, was created to help fund things that are important to student learning, student development and enrichment that haven’t been able to be provided for by school budgets,” said Lillian Ney, vice president of the Promise Fund and coordinator of the music program drive, when reached by phone Thursday.

At Chautauqua on Thursday, Apthorpe was met by Suzanne Fassett, director of music education at Chautauqua, Joseph Pawelski, treasurer of the Promise Fund and board of education member, among other officials.

“We’re hoping that this will be a seed that will blossom into the event that will be on Sept. 8,” Fassett said.

Fassett and others promoted the Thursday event within the institution and was hopeful numerous residents would donate throughout the day. Apthorpe was scheduled to remain on institution grounds until 7 p.m. accepting donations for the Promise Fund.

The first institution resident who donated was Gena Bedrosian, physician and musician, and self described life-long music lover, who is originally from Bradford, Pa. area. She elected to donate a trombone her son used to play and a flute that she played for many years. Additional donations included a music stand and equipment for the trombone.

The flute, specifically, had been apart of Bedrosian’s life since she purchased it with money she earned through babysitting and mowing lawns in 1961. Bedrosian said her family did not provide her with the instrument, which she admitted is a significant deterrent for students potentially pursuing music. Bedrosian also played piano, the organ the recorder, the piccolo and the Irish tin whistle, among other instruments.

For Bedrosian, supporting the music program drive was beyond music itself.

“Music can do more than teach kids the notes,” she said. “It can give them order and focus in their lives that can help them to be more successful overall and possibly withstand some of the temptations that bring young people into an undesirable area of their lives.”

Bedrosian also shared letters for the students who receive her donated instruments that detailed her story and why she chose to gift the instruments that have impacted her life. She reiterated the positive effect youth organizations like music programs have on a young person’s life.

“It’s not just about the notes,” Bedrosian said.

Thursday’s donation collection served as the prelude to the drive being held in early September at Jamestown High School. Pawelski emphasized the importance of providing students with an instrument and the potential of the music program drive.

“If we can get an instrument in a kid’s hands who doesn’t have much else, the kid has something to run with,” Pawelski said.