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Parents Fighting To Extend In-School Violin Program

OPB | Aug. 18, 2013 8:50 p.m. | Updated: Aug. 19, 2013 8:55 a.m. | Portland

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A group of Portland parents is trying to rally support for an in-school violin instruction program.

Kids in the program got their first experience as street buskers Sunday night at downtown’s Tanner Springs Park. Kids ranging from first- through fourth grade serenades passersby with everything they had - from trilling scales to a Bach minuet.

Students at Beach with Teacher Scott Belleri. Some of the kids have been studying violin at school since kindergarten - busked for donations Sunday night.

Students at Beach with Teacher Scott Belleri. Some of the kids have been studying violin at school since kindergarten - busked for donations Sunday night.

April Baer / Oregon Public Broadcasting

Since 2008, students at Portland’s Beach School have been taking Suzuki-method violin lessons with volunteer teachers.

But the program has come to a crossroads: Raise $20,000, or the program can’t continue. The district has a policy against in-school programs that take away from academic time.

Salima and Akeem McRae’s daughter fourth grader has been learning violin at school since kindergarten. Salima McRae says the school offers Spanish immersion for kids who enroll from around the city. But the Suzuki class is special for the school’s neighborhood students.

“Once it’s gone,” MacRae said, “I might have to move my daughter out of Beach.”

Her husband, Akeem, added, “All the arts have been taken away, all the music has been taken away.” He credits the violin program for enhancing  his daughter’s academics.

The program web fundraising page says it’s only about ten percent toward goal, with five days left.

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