RHMPA History - History of the Rush-Henrietta Music Parents Association

  • In November 1992, 16 parents attended the first parents' meeting at the invitation of Mr. Fred Weingarten, former Director of Music and Visual Arts. The following spring, Mr. Michael Wood prepared a position paper or letter of introduction on behalf of the new group, which was sent to the members of the Board of Education. Donations were solicited from local businesses, and a bank account was opened with $100 that was received. Michael Wood, president, and Patricia Pogue, treasurer, became the first officers informally designated for the 1993-94 academic year. The first fundraiser, selling refreshments at the District Music Festival, was organized in March of 1994.

    In an effort to increase membership and the community's awareness of the Rush-Henrietta Music Parents Association (RHMPA), information tables were set up at each school's open house during the 1994-95 academic year. Information was also made available at the district's Red Ribbon celebration. Pat Pogue, then president, introduced RHMPA to the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) that fall. RHMPA informally became part of the network called Monroe County F.O.C.A.S. (Friends Organized and Caring about Arts in our Schools) and invited a speaker from the Liverpool United Committee for Arts in the Schools to present at a meeting.

    Fundraising activities that year included working the concession stand at high school sporting events and selling student-designed buttons and candy bars/music items at district concerts. The first requests for financial assistance came from Burger music teachers (12/93 and 2/94) for rental of concert attire for a small vocal group and purchase of microphones for the spring musical. With the help of a phone tree, which was established in early 1995, RHMPA members were involved in advocating for the music program with letters, phone calls, and attendance at school board meetings and Budget Advisory Committee meetings during the spring budget development process.

    At the end of that year, there were approximately 140 RHMPA members. The organization supported the reinstitution of the district summer band program that summer. Also during the summer of 1995, by-laws were written and later approved by members at a fall meeting. The by-laws spelled out the organizational structure that currently exists, with representatives from each school building on the Executive Council and assistant representatives designated as needed, depending on the number of members in that building.

    During the 1995-96 school year, membership grew to approximately 250, and for the first time community business leaders joined. RHMPA was officially recognized by DPAC as a member parent group during the 1995-96 school year. The group sent representatives to network with other local arts supporters at Arts in Education meetings and participated in a teleconference through a downlink at Monroe #1 BOCES.

    A form was devised to allow R-H music teachers to request financial assistance for enrichment opportunities or other non-budgeted needs during the year. Fundraising continued at concerts, the Roth play, festivals, etc. so that these requests could be addressed. In addition, half of the money in the treasury on April 1, was designated for student opportunities for summer enrichment, either through the district-run summer band program or for individual scholarships for camps, private study, etc. (The first three students were awarded grants in June of 1996.)

    In 1996-1997, with the opening of the Vollmer building, the Association expanded to include those parents also. New activities that year included sponsoring a used instrument drive and a Rush-Henrietta community Family Night at the RPO. Also, the phone tree was utilized in the fall to encourage the now 500 members to vote on the school district bond. The director of music and visual arts and one of the co-presidents presented a workshop about the organization at the annual winter conference of the New York State School Music Association at the Concord Hotel.

    The Rush-Henrietta Music Parents Association continues to focus its efforts in three main directions:

    • Spreading the word to the community about the multitude of talented youngsters in the district and encouraging concert attendance, along with providing hospitality at those concerts
    • Financially supporting the students' musical endeavors whenever that is needed and possible
    • Advocating for music and the continuation (or expansion) of the music program in the Rush-Henrietta Central School District whenever that seems necessary or appropriate