When the call went out in the local media about East Cleveland's Shaw High School Marching Band needing financial assistance to help defray the costs of a once in a lifetime trip to the 2008 Summer Olympics, Greater Clevelanders not only responded but helped them surpass their goal.
The Case Western Reserve University community joined in by providing assistance to the band and the school, which is located about 10 minutes from campus. Courtesy of the Office of Government and Community Relations, the Office of Alumni Relations, the School of Dental Medicine and the Department of Athletics, a donation of $1,000, T-shirts with the university's logo, dental kits consisting of toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash and dental floss, and luggage tags were sent to the band.
Anne Borchert, executive director of Corporate Relations, and Helen Jones-Toms, director of marketing and communications at the School of Engineering, spearheaded the university's participation as Tom Jacobs, Managing Partner of BZ Media, sought partnerships on behalf of Shaw High School. A former NBC producer, Jacobs and his wife adopted a child from China and return to visit quite often. As a result, Jacobs is helping the students prepare and understand the culture in China, and will create a documentary of the students' experience.
The award-winning band was one of only five in the United States to be invited to participate in the Beijing Olympic International Music Festival. The students and their band director, Donshon Wilson, will be in China June 19-30, with their performance scheduled for June 28. For many of the band members, this will be their first time traveling outside of the Cleveland area, let alone the United States.
"The Shaw High School Marching Band is a local gem that many Greater Clevelanders hold dear to their hearts. Besides great musical talent and stellar showmanship, they represent years of tradition and participation in many of Cleveland's annual community events," said Latisha James, director of the university's Center for Community Partnerships.
Not only are the band members exceptional musicians, they are academically gifted. According to BZ Media, 90 percent of the band members are either on the Merit or Honor Roll, and over 90 percent of them go on to attend college.
"We are thrilled to know that the rest of the world will have an opportunity to see how talented Shaw's Mighty Cardinals Marching Band truly is. Mr. Wilson and the students should be commended for their efforts. We know they will make us proud during their stay in China," James said.
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