SALEM — They’ve got the drums. Now they just need the uniforms and instruments.
Salem High School band director Cynthia Napierkowski has nearly reached the halfway mark in her drive to raise $100,000 to benefit the marching band and beginning students.
Out of $49,000 raised so far, $23,000 was spent on a set of 15 Pearl Championship Series drums, including snare drums, bass drums, tenor drums and cymbals, Napierkowski said. The money also covered drumheads, sticks, cases, stands and harnesses.
The new drums gave a morale boost to the students in the band, which last year won its sixth platinum medal at a regional competition run by the New England Scholastic Band Association, Napierkowski said.
“Oh my gosh, they were walking on air,” she said. “We haven’t had new drums in over 15 years.”
The additional $26,000 will be spent on uniforms, also for the marching band, but Napierkowski needs about $30,000 more before she can order them — hopefully in time for the band’s autumn season. The uniforms band members currently wear are outdated and falling apart, despite the best efforts of parents and students, she said.
“They’re 17 years old,” Napierkowski said. “I can’t imagine anything that’s been in your house for 17 years in the hand of teenagers ... they’re worn out.”
The uniforms cost $350 each. The marching band had 119 members last year, but needs 150 uniforms to make sure there’s an acceptable array of sizes — and because the program is expected to grow, Napierkowski said.
The remaining $20,000 Napierkowski hopes to raise will be spent on instruments for students, including flutes, clarinets, alto saxophones, trumpets and trombones. The instruments will go to students in fourth to eighth grades who are just starting out.
“We have a fairly large population of kids whose families just can’t afford to rent an instrument,” she said.
Napierkowski initiated the fundraiser in June, when she sent 1,000 letters soliciting donations to local businesses and former members of the high school’s band. She also approached Kickstarter.com, a popular fundraising website but was denied a page because the company said there was “no final product in band uniforms,” she said.
Since then, people have donated amounts ranging from $5 to $2,000, she said.
“Every little $5 helps,” she said. “The kids are really deserving, and the band is a source of pride for the school.”
The marching band won the New England Scholastic Band Association award after competing against more than 30 bands in Lawrence last fall. Napierkowski, who has led the band since 1987, said the band first entered that competition in 1991 and hasn’t been awarded anything less than a gold medal every year since 1998.
Also, the 87-member concert band will be playing at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March, the second time the band has appeared there since 2009. They were selected to do so after sending in an audition tape.
“Last year’s group sent the tape in,” Napierkowski said. “This year’s group gets to reap the benefits.”
Anyone interested in donating can make a check out to “SHS MUSIC” and send it to Cynthia Napierkowski at Salem High School, 77 Willson St., Salem, MA 01970.
Neil Dempsey can be reached at email@example.com.