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America

Published on October 23rd, 2013 | by Malcolm X Abram - Enjoy.Ohio.Com

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Summit Academy’s steel bands to drum up support at concert

The Summit Academy has a problem. The Akron middle and high school that addresses the social, emotional and academic needs of students with ADHD, autism spectrum disorders and related disorders has a Steel Band Program that just keeps growing. The charter school’s three-year-old Steel Band Program, which started with a few sticks and plastic buckets in a lunchroom, has grown to encompass three bands. The bands are: the Summit Academy Steel Dragons, made up of middle-schoolers; the Summit Academy Steel Spartans, which consists of high-school students; and the All-Star Band, which draws from both schools.

But the program is having a difficult time keeping up with the number of students who want to join the All-Star Band. So on Wednesday night, the Summit Academy All-Star Band will hold a fundraising concert dubbed A Night of Caribbean Dreams at the Tangier in Akron featuring the 40-member veteran band along with guest performances by recording artists jazz-fusion pan man Jonathan Scales and steel-pan rock dude Tracy Thornton. All of the proceeds will go toward purchasing music equipment for the program.  “When I first started I had 15, last year we had 30 and this year we have over 70 that are just meeting our criteria for being in the All-Star Band — good grades, good behavior and just being an ambassador for the school,” program founder and Summit Academy music teacher Angel Lawrie said.

The fact that aspiring steel pan superstars must maintain a B average and exhibit no significant behavior issues hasn’t slowed the band’s growth from 33 students in 2012 to 75 members in 2013, necessitating breaking down the All-Star Band into veteran and beginner groups. The problem is Summit Academy simply doesn’t have enough instruments to reward the new members for all their hard work. Lawrie said the ultimate goal is to raise $50,000 for instruments, music and music stands and other accessories to ensure that all of the students who want to join and earn the opportunity to do so will have the necessary tools to jump right in and start making music

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