If there’s anyone up to the challenge of raising $100,000 in six months, it’s Cynthia Napierkowski.
The longtime Salem High School band director launched a campaign this summer to raise funds for much-needed drum equipment, marching uniforms and instruments for beginner band students.
“I’m not a fundraising specialist. I’m doing this grass roots,” said Napierkowski. “None of this is about me. This is all about Salem kids. The band represents our school and our city around the country.”
Napierkowski’s campaign is in addition to the $20,000 worth of fundraising the Salem High School band boosters do each year to cover expenses not met by the school budget.
Her goal? Raise $100,000 by Feb. 1.
But Napierkowski is no stranger to challenge. When she took over the struggling SHS band program in 1987, the ensemble had 22 students who couldn’t even play their own school song.
The band has blossomed to more than 100 players during Napierkowski’s tenure. They travel and compete all over the U.S., including a trip planned to play at Carnegie Hall in March.
Napierkowski’s thriving program includes marching and concert bands, jazz band, fall and winter color guard and percussion ensemble.
“The kids are amazing,” she said. “I think that’s why I’ve stayed in Salem so long — because of the kids.”
After receiving an OK from the Salem School Committee and SHS Principal David Angeramo, Napierkowski kicked off the uniform fundraiser in June by sending out 1,000 letters seeking donations from local businesses and SHS band alumni.
She’s collected close to $5,500 so far and hopes the campaign spreads through word of mouth.
Her first goal is to raise $25,000 for the most urgent need: equipment for her marching band’s drum line. The school’s percussion equipment is so old that Napierkowski says replacement parts are no longer manufactured.