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Columbia, SC (October 18, 2004): The South Carolina Education Lottery (SCEL) and the Greenville Grrrowl teamed up with the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation to support music education in South Carolina. Three Richland One elementary schools – Burton Pack Elementary, Horrell Hill Elementary and Pine Grove Elementary – received the national music grants.

The money will go toward the purchase of much-needed musical instruments – and the children can hardly wait, said Horrell Hill teacher Dottie Hanlin on Thursday night. “It’s very exciting,” said Hanlin, who currently lets her students share her own violin and a borrowed viola to practice.

Freddie Grace, Richland One’s lead teacher for orchestra, said the instruments will help students who couldn’t afford to buy or rent them otherwise. “These instruments are going to schools that have a high level of free- and reduced-lunch students,” he said, adding that the instruments are expected to arrive at schools in about two weeks.

Grace said if not for the donation, children with an interest in learning music might miss out on their musical calling. “And there’s a Mozart out there,” he said.

According to the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, on average, students who participate in music programs have higher grades, less behavioral problems, less drug use, better attendance records and, in general, succeed more than students not involved with music education.

“There is tremendous research that shows music and the arts are critical to the entire education” said Bill Harvey, a foundation board member and co-owner and vice president of Buddy Rogers Music in Ohio. He said the donation means a lot to the students. “It’s something tangible the kids see. They’re so excited to get instruments.”

Unfortunately, despite the proven positive impact of music education on a child’s life, school and community music programs are increasingly being discontinued or severely scaled back due to budgetary restraints.

“We know that education is instrumental,” said Ernie Passailaigue, SCEL’s Executive Director. “Whether it is lottery scholarships or K-5 enhancements, by supporting programs such as this, we are helping educate our children. It is my hope that this partnership can encourage schools and the community to get behind the arts.”

That’s the school district’s goal, as well. Dr. Richard Moniuszko, Deputy Superintendent of Richland One, said the district and its parents are supportive of the arts, but school officials recognize that many parents can’t afford instruments for their children.

“We’re lucky we have the teachers for band and orchestra,” he said, “And (the donation) will provide a lot more of our kids a chance to participate.”

Through SCEL’s partnership with the Greenville Grrrowl hockey organization and the Center Ice Charities, the Growl is donating $6,050 to the foundation on the lottery’s behalf. The Greenville Grrrowl raised the funds on behalf of the SCEL through a silent auction.

“The lottery putting money back into the schools …” Harvey said. “We like being associated with that!”

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