Century School hosts special spring concert
Century Community Unit School District No. 100 in Ullin hosted its annual spring concert May 2. For the first time since the 2009-2010 school year, band performances were part of the program.
A lack of school funding led Century to cut the band program back in 1999. A revival attempt was made in 2009-2010, but financial support did not last.
In September 2016, music teacher Rebecca Yates received support from the administration to bring back the band.
She created an online giving website to raise funds from the community for new school instruments, hoping to generate $2,132. The project was fully funded in less than a week.
Yates submitted two more projects to the website in the following weeks to purchase reeds and a crash cymbal. Both fundraisers were completed within a few days.
Support also came from used instrument donations and a portion of the sale of old Century school buses.
By November, Yates had purchased 10 new instruments and a total of 37 school instruments to be loaned out to students.
Thirty-seven 4th and 5th grade students and 22 in 6th through 8th grade began learning how to maintain and play their instruments.
Class schedules were set up for different instrument sections to have lessons the first four days of the week, with the fifth day devoted to full band rehearsal.
“They sacrificed their P.E.,” Yates said, noting how important physical education is to many of the kids.
The small group sessions allowed the kids a chance to succeed quickly, though not without effort.
On Tuesday evening, May 2, a collection of proud parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers, classmates and community members gathered in the Century School gym to hear the band’s first public performance.
The night’s theme was “Broadway Beat,” drawing selections from musicals like “Rock of Ages,” “The Sound of Music” and “Beauty and the Beast.”
Yates expressed pride to the audience, saying: “I want to thank you for your community support to get the band program back at Century. Six months and one day ago, these kids got their instruments...I feel like we’ve got a good thing going.”
She later commented that “it has been a true joy to get to come and make music with the kids at Century this school year. They really have done amazing things in just six months time.
“Watching them go from having no idea how to put an instrument together to being able to play music as a group has been a privilege. I have seen a confidence in all of them as well as seen them grow together as a group within the school.”
Vocal performances were also given by students from kindergarten to high school, featuring music from “Hairspray,” “Wicked,” “Grease” and more.