This school year began with great promise and optimism. We started with the addition of six (6) new FAME Jazz Band students and the formal formation of the Musicians in Training (MIT) component of the FAME Jazz Band Program that grew to 11 students. By March, several major musical performances were completed, including two from our vision board – the Kennedy Center and the Gaylord National Hotel; and academic successes were accomplished. Plans for our annual spring and summer events and performances were going very well and then… we experienced the devastating loss of our talented and beautiful baritone saxophone student, Ian Thomas. A few days later state and local government officials mandated the closing of area schools and businesses due to COVID-19.
COVID-19 wiped our annual Spring and Summer activities and special events off the calendar. It also required us to find a different way to continue weekly academic tutoring, music theory, music sectionals, and counseling: high school, college, and career. With this sudden shift from in-person programming, the FAME staff, instructors, students, and our academic partner, Innovative Study Techniques, developed, evaluated, and launched FAME Online Learning in rapid fashion using the Zoom digital platform. Instructors used a range of collaboration tools and engagement methods to keep students actively engaged. Extra classes, computers and access to reliable internet service were acquired to keep students on tract with their regular schoolwork. While the current atmosphere presents challenges, we are committed to ensuring that our students will continue to receive quality academic instruction, support services, and music instruction. We maintained the same pre- COVID-19 teaching schedules to minimize disruption.
As we all continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19, we extend our gratitude to the students, parents, partners, and community members for your support that helped us to deliver our programming timely, effectively and with stability at this chaotic time. Also, thank you to those who have asked how you can support us during the upcoming months. Your continued support via www.FAMEmusic.org/support-fame will help ensure that we continue our important work preparing youth for successful futures.
On behalf of everyone at FAME, stay safe and keep the music playing!
A. Toni Lewis