2 students win instruments for music essays


ORANGE PARK, Fla. – A brand new guitar can be pricey -- hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the brand. And parents with children taking music classes in school know firsthand how expensive it is.

But two school kids in Orange Park won't have to worry about that. They won their own instrument through an essay contest.

Nonprofit program The Music For Dreams Foundation promotes music education. The group partners with Title I low-income schools and donates instruments or funds to purchase instruments to those in need.

That's why fourth-grader Ciana Sparkman and sixth-grader Lenisha Feros won. They entered an essay contest through the foundation hoping to win an instrument.

"I love music," Sparkman said. "It helps me express my feelings. Also, I have a passion for music since I was little. Don't you think music is all inspiring?"

Miss Nassau County Amanda Hatcher is the CEO of the music nonprofit. She rewarded the two students at W.E. Cherry Elementary School with musical instruments.

Hatcher started the foundation after a friend died by suicide. She said it's a way for students to get involved in positive outlets.

"People feel like they can't open up and talk about what they are going through, and that's where music comes in," Hatcher said.

The girls who wrote an essay and won are currently taking music class at the school.

"I was shocked because I didn't really think I would win," Feros said.

"I wrote about how music helps me," Sparkman said. "It helps me express my feelings."

Their teacher is proud and hopes more people in the community step up to donate to schools like theirs that don't always have the funding for instruments.

"Our families are like many families struggling to make ends meet in this economy," music teacher Gary Murch said. "So affording instruments is not necessarily the first priorities for the families."

If you have any interest in donating instruments to the school or any other school, go to MusicForDreamsFoundation.com.

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