March is Music Appreciation Month and recently, music and band teacher Alyssa Cross Schulke, and three of her choir members – Ashlyn Stanley (11th grade), Kat Hedrick (12th grade) and Bryce Drake (9th grade) – performed a rendition of Let it Be and dedicated it to Principal Melissa Whiting at the March School Board meeting.
The song was performed because it’s one of Whiting’s favorite songs. Afterward, she was very appreciative and complimentary.
After Whiting and the school choir received a standing ovation, Superintendent Jeanette Warwick complimented Schulke on her job at the school.
Craig County Public Schools were without a music department for a number of years. Since its rebirth, students throughout K-12 have again enjoyed their music classes.
“I currently teach general music to grades K-5, a general music and ukulele class for 6th graders, high school choir and band for students in grades 8-12,” Schulke said. “I also direct the musical for the school which is an extra-curricular activity for students in grades 6 through 12.”
Schulke had 14 students in her band this year and six in the choir. She was hired as the Craig County Public Schools music teacher in the fall of 2014.
Each year, elementary students in third through fifth grade have a concert in the winter while kindergarten through second grader students have theirs in the spring. The band and choir have several performances throughout the year, including singing the National Anthem at the Fall Festival, the Veteran’s Day Assembly and the Christmas Parade.
Due to the school closing, both the McCleary Elementary concert and the CCPS Band and Choir concerts have been cancelled.
Said Schulke on why she loves her job, “I love the fact that I get to watch my students grow from little kindergarteners into successful high school musicians. Not many music teachers get to see the progression from start to finish, and I am so blessed to work in a small school system where I can foster students’ musical growth.”
Still they could use a little help from the community.
“We have to fundraise for everything that we do and for most of the materials we need,” she said before adding, “Therefore, we are always in need of monetary donations as sheet music and band scores are expensive, instrument repairs happen throughout the year and the rights and materials for the musicals cost quite a bit.”
When Schulke was asked if she could use any additional instruments, she responded by saying that saxophones are needed the most. “Any instruments are greatly appreciated and put to good use in the hands of our students,” she said.
Schulke continued, “Our band instrument supply has grown a great deal over the past six years, and I am so thankful for those in the community and beyond who have graciously donated to our program. It is really helpful to families in the community and students who may not otherwise be able to have an instrument to participate in band.”
Schulke’s dream is to continue to grow her music program.
“I would love to have a large choir and I hope one day to have a full marching band to perform during halftime at our football games,” she said.
Schulke believes that music is important because it is a universal language. “It brings us all together and unites us in a way nothing else can. It is important for students because it gives them a positive outlet and allows them to build teamwork skills,” she said. “We truly become a family in our ensembles, and those bonds are something they will remember forever.”
She concluded, “I am so appreciative of the schools’ and community’s support of the music program and consider myself so blessed to work with such amazing kids.”