Music program thrives at Dongola Elementary - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Music program thrives at Dongola Elementary

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DONGOLA -- While some schools deal with cuts to their music program amidst Illinois budget cuts right now, one school has managed to make sure its program thrives. 

For years, the music program at Dongola Elementary School fell a little flat, with small numbers and a lack of instruments.

That was until Ms. Gray helped make the band sharp.

"When I got down here and they said we had three kids in band last year, I said 'okay, lets do it. It takes five years to build a program. I'm ready,'" said Gray. 

In three short years, the band has tripled in size and now wins trophies for their performance.

"There is an energy that comes with her when she walks in the room," said Dongola Superintendent Dr. Paige Maginel. 

That energy motivates students to learn. 

"They are so proud of themselves. You can see it in their eyes. You see it in their expressions. You see it when we get to a parade. They are proud of what they are doing and they know they are good at it," said Maginel. 

For two years, Gray and her students dodged a leaky roof as they made music with broken instruments. 

"It was concerning that I would come into destroyed instruments and cases rotten open or something like that. I had a couple saxophones where some of the roof fell on them and inside their case they got crushed," said Gray.

This year the school fixed the leaky roof and because of Gray now every student who wants to play an instrument can.

She applied for, and got, grants to pay for shiny new instruments.

"It's a blast. It's excitement and energy all the time," said sophomore Nathan Williams. 

"The growth creates excitement and that's what you need in a music program, and a school," said Gray. 

That's something the administration at Dongola wants to see grow, helping open minds to music and skills that help in other subjects.

Studies have shown, kids who play instruments have a heightened since of creativity and better problem-solving skills.

For more information on the Dongola music program, click here.

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