The surprised reaction from Sumas Elementary music teacher Landon Wynne upon receiving a $3,000 check from the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra to replace lost musical equipment during the fall flooding says it all: "That's awesome!"
Ahead of a day of celebration across the elementary schools on Friday, April 22, which included a musical parade around Nooksack Elementary, led by Wynne, two representatives of the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra started off the celebration with plenty of reason for excitement, the surprise donation.
"We heard about the flooding situation with Sumas, so we wanted to do the most good we could," says Gail Ridenour, executive director of the orchestra. With Covid, the orchestra hasn't been able to do its typical in-school presentations, so the board has taken funding and steered it toward grants and gifts to schools to fund their music programs.
"We are trying to do good in these difficult times," Ridenour says about helping Sumas Elementary with purchases of new musical instruments.
Nooksack Elementary music teacher Jackson Stewart, a member of the Bellingham Symphony Orchestra, says that when Ridenour approached him with the idea—and the surprise concept—he was excited about the opportunity.
Music has already played a key role in the district's elementary population since the flood. With Sumas students spread across multiple buildings since the flood, the teachers taught all students the same song, Woyaya.
"The music has definitely helped to bring our community and schools together," Stewart says. "It was so fun to watch during rehearsals as another class came down the hall, would stop, listen and sing along. We hear kids signing together at recess, on the way to the bus and all over school, no matter whether they started the year as a Sumas or Nooksack student."