Ally Ledford, Isabelle Gladson, Isabella Stiles and Amber Tyner (from left) practice playing recorders in music class at Hiwassee Dam Elementary/Middle School. Their teacher, Stephen Stiltner, is raising funds to get more instruments in the hands of his students.

SCOUTING AROUND: Music teacher raises funds for instruments

    Learning to read music and practicing that skill on an instrument is a common part of most elementary school music classes. But when he started teaching music at Hiwassee Dam’s schools, Stephen Stiltner had nothing to work with to teach his students.
    He said it’s hard to teach music without instruments. Plus, it’s important for kids to have hands-on learning.
    To acquire the instrument supply he has built for his students so far, Stiltner has used some money from the school system to purchase instruments, plus won grants, borrowed from other schools and held fundraisers. Many students in third and fourth grades have purchased their own recorders.
    His latest effort is a project on the fundraising website DonorsChoose.org.
    “Basically, I’m doing everything I can,” Stiltner said about his efforts to get instruments in the hands of his students. “I’ve used (DonorsChoose.org) in the past, and I always have been fairly successful with it.”
    Stiltner has had two other projects for Hiwassee Dam funded on DonorsChoose.org – one to help start a band at the high school, the other to organize instruments for the middle school­. He hopes he can get one to provide xylophones, hand drums and other basic instruments for his elementary school classes funded as well.
    So far, the project “Make a Joyful Noise!” has one donor. He still needs to raise $1,372 by the March 28 deadline. DonorsChoose.org will only collect the funds and send the requested materials to the school if the goal is reached by the deadline.
    If funded, the project will not only provide a wider variety of instruments for the students, but also will eliminate the need to wait for a turn to play an instrument during instruction. It also will replace a few instruments that have worn out with use.
    Stiltner isn’t the only Cherokee County teacher with a project on Donors-Choose.org, but he is the only one with a project that expires this month. Other projects include DSLR cameras for Hiwassee Dam High School, Kindles and iPads for Murphy Elementary School, three eclipse projects for Andrews Elementary School, flexible seating for Andrews Middle School and a media center makeover for Andrews High School.
    To find any of the Cherokee County school teachers’ projects on DonorsChoose.org, type “Murphy, NC” or “Cherokee County, NC” in the search field.

BBQ fundraiser returns
    The halls will be alive with the sound of gospel and bluegrass music Friday night at Ranger Elementary/Middle School. The school’s second annual Gospel, Bluegrass & BBQ event will be held from 5-8 p.m. in the school’s gymnasium.
    “We had a good turnout, and the community seems to like the gospel and bluegrass music,” said Brandy Raper, the PTA’s teacher representative. “And most everybody likes barbecue.”
    Performers scheduled to appear include the Hayes Brothers, the Pressley
Girls, the Nicholsons, the Mashburns, the Raven Welch Band and Spirit Wind.
    Tickets for the event are $7 pre-paid or $10 at the door. The price includes a plate of barbecue with a drink and a dessert.
    The evening also will feature raffles, and money raised will support school projects. For details, call the school at 644-5111.

Museum looks for artists
    The Andrews Art Museum is looking for artists from brand new to experienced to participate in its annual 50/50 Show from 5-7 p.m. Friday, April 14. The 50/50 Show is unique in that it features 50 pieces of local and regional art, all for sale at $50 each.
    Artists may submit up to three pieces in any medium. Museum director Tom Vogler, quite an artist himself, said this year the art may also be displayed and for sale at Andrews’ Earth Day event as well as a dinner theater in early May.
    Money raised from the show – half of the price of each sold work goes to the artist, while the other half goes to the museum – will go toward the installation of a large sculpture on the grounds of the Valleytown Cultural Arts Center on Chestnut Street downtown.
    The 50/50 Show is sponsored by the N.C. Arts Council, Cherokee County Arts Council and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel. Local Delta blues singer-songwriter Heidi Holton will be the musical entertainment for the evening.
    For details, email Vogler at tmvogler@hotmail.com.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message at 837-5122.