My oldest son John lives with his family in South Carolina in a very large housing development that is divided into smaller communities with particular themes. His neighborhood consists of what I would call “row” houses, each with a front porch, all very close together. While visiting a few weeks ago, I was sitting on his porch swing on a Saturday morning with my 2-year-old grandson. Between the five houses across the street and near his, there were 11 children (I met them all) ranging in age from 4 weeks to 11 years old. By 9:30 a.m., the children and their parents were outside (all except my 4-week-old grandson). Kids were playing and parents were visiting and working in their yard. If a young child wandered into the street, a nearby adult would speak to the child or go get them. In this neighborhood, children were safe and they know that many adults care for them.
I couldn’t help but think that Elkin is also a community that cares about its children. Two recent events have demonstrated how the Elkin community cares about their kids. First, the Elkin Academic Enrichment Foundation, Inc. hosted and organized a successful BINGO night at Elkin Elementary School on September 16th to raise money to fund teacher grants. The Foundation president is Mrs. Lyndsey Ballard, the vice president is Mr. Jim Westbrook, and Mr. Frank Beals is the secretary (Frank is also a School Board Member). Other members of the Foundation that helped make this event possible include Tom Flippin, Myra Cook, and John Wiles. The event was attended by approximately 150 people and raised almost $5,000. These dollars will support the great ideas of our teachers to “encourage, connect, and inspire” our students (Elkin City Schools theme for this year).
The second community collaboration that has benefitted our students was the recent September 25th performance by the UNC School of the Arts symphony. To avoid transporting as many items as possible, the conductor asked about the availability of several instruments at the high school. One of the instruments that he asked about was the timpani drum set. The Elkin band had some drums, but they were purchased in the late 1980’s and could no longer maintain the correct tension on their surface and were essentially not usable. Dr. Richard Brinegar, the chairman of the Board of Education and father of one of the symphony members, said that he would see if her could raise some money to purchase a new set of timpani drums.
Brad Oliver, one of Elkin’s parents and husband of one of our teachers, was able to find a new set of timpani drums that had been used as a demonstration set. Dr. Brinegar found five other donors who joined him to raise the $10,000 necessary to purchase the four new drums. The kettles of these drums are copper and are rated professional grade. A number of other donors contributed funds sufficient to offset all the remaining costs of the concert with funds left over to help support the music and arts programs at all three Elkin City Schools. I would also like to thank WIFM radio for agreeing to donate advertising and to rebroadcast the concert on Saturday, October 1st at 1 p.m. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank our school system staff for coordinating the logistics that made this event a success.
In addition to the financial support for the music and art programs in our schools, middle and high school students had an opportunity to meet with the conductor for an hour and experience the warm up prior to the performance. Students also had a chance to enjoy Mazinni’s pizza with the UNC School of the Arts symphony members. Fairfield Inn and Suites in Elkin was generous in their donation of water for the students, performers and adults. Another wonderful opportunity to “encourage, connect, and inspire” our young people.
Again, thanks to everyone who helped to make the BINGO night and the UNC School of the Arts symphony performance a success. Elkin is indeed a great community.
Dr. Don Martin is interim superintendent of Elkin City Schools.