Midtown Rotary Club helps keeps arts alive in OKC schools 

click to enlarge Rebecca Vaughn, music instructor at Prairie Queen Elementary School, leads her students on a short rhythmic arrangement, during an assembly presenting the approximately 40 new African drums donated to the school by the OKC Midtown Rotary, on Friday, 9-11-15. - MARK HANCOCK
  • Mark Hancock
  • Rebecca Vaughn, music instructor at Prairie Queen Elementary School, leads her students on a short rhythmic arrangement, during an assembly presenting the approximately 40 new African drums donated to the school by the OKC Midtown Rotary, on Friday, 9-11-15.

As districts and teachers face the reality of tight budgets and limited funding, Oklahoma City Midtown Rotary Club eases the stress by donating art education materials to local schools.

“It is very important to have arts and music in the schools,” said Eric Bradshaw, Midtown Rotary’s public relations chairman. “We had an instructor from Edmond come out and talk to our group, and he explained how music can enhance the parts of the brain that deal with language and math. That is why providing help to students is vital to our mission at Rotary.”

This year, the group donated 50 drums to Prairie Queen Elementary School and guitar training textbooks to Northwest Classen High School. Many Midtown Rotary members have arts or education backgrounds, Bradshaw said.

“We were charted about six years ago, and we specifically wanted to concentrate on the arts in Oklahoma City,” he said. “Focusing on the arts is part of our primary goal. If we can give children a head start on their music and arts education, then we have accomplished what we set out to do.”

The club spent about $5,000 on the donations, Bradshaw said.

Funds are generated mainly through Midtown Rotary’s annual adult-oriented Spelling Bee(r), held each February.

The larger Rotary Foundation Annual Fund determines the grants process. Bradshaw said the club submitted seven applications this year and approved two.

“The full club weighed in on their favorite projects, and then the board made further selections,” he said. “Generally, the criterion for the district is that they are of long-term benefit and serve the greatest number of students.”

Past donations include power tools and set building supplies for Capitol Hill High School’s drama department. Music folders went to Harding Charter Preparatory High School, art supplies were gifted to Horace Mann Elementary School and pottery wheels and equipment were given to John Marshall High School.

“Oklahoma City is bustling in a lot of ways, but arts in the schools is somewhat struggling,” Bradshaw said. “Art is important too.”

Visit okcmidtownrotary.org or facebook.com/MidtownRotary for more information. Oklahoma City Midtown Rotary Club meets 6 p.m. each Tuesday at James E. McNellie’s Public House in Midtown.


Print Headline: Civics lessons, Oklahoma City Midtown Rotary Club donates musical instruments and books to local schools.

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