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Support school bands at ExtravaBANDza

This graph shows the progress the St. Croix Central Band Boosters have made fundraising so far this year and how far they want to go. (Submitted image)1 / 3
Kimberly Hopkins2 / 3
Jason Koele3 / 3

Have you ever owned a car and driven it to the point where it had no life left in it?

That’s the point many of the musical instruments are at in the St. Croix Central School District.

The St. Croix Central Band Boosters is a parent group dedicated to generating funds to improve the district’s musical equipment and educational opportunities. The group formed one year ago.

High school band director Jason Koele said many of the instruments at SCC have reached the end of their usefulness.

“Every instrument has a certain lifespan much like a car and several of our major and most expensive to replace instruments have hit the 300,000 mile mark,” Koele said. “Some of those instruments are our bari saxophones and tubas. There will always be wear and tear on school instruments, such as dings, dents and scratches. However, the instruments we currently have here at SCC have been used to the point of falling apart and not being playable anymore. It has affected the ability to even make sound out of them at times.”

According to Koele, the middle and high school instrumental music programs need about $150,000 in equipment to be at a basic level. He said most music programs started in the 1970s and 80s, and SCC is still using instruments from that era.

“The booster program will help our instrumental music department expand our instrument base as well as provide more opportunities for students to play instruments,” Koele said. “It’s getting harder and harder for families to afford rental instruments, which is why we here at SCC feel it is our duty as musicians to provide the materials, environment and fundamentals to students so that they too can find a lifelong love and passion for music.”

SCC Middle School band director Kimberly Hopkins agrees with Koele.

“The middle school currently has two tubas and four tuba players,” Hopkins said. “This has been the situation for a number of years, with up to six students playing on the two tubas. The students purchase their own mouthpieces, but the wear and tear on these instruments when several different students play them is significant. Adding another tuba will add to the longevity of the instruments we currently have.  Ideally, since tubas are so big and hard to transport (which is also very hard on the instruments and cases), each tuba student would have a tuba at home for practicing and a tuba at school to play. We are not there yet, but that is a long-term goal and having one more will help a lot.”

Hopkins said the schools would be happy to accept donated instruments too.

“If anyone has an instrument tucked away in a closet or storage, and it’s in good shape, we always appreciate those donations,” Hopkins said. “Other items we need at the middle school are bass clarinets, euphoniums (baritones), and baritone saxophones – these instruments are like the tubas in that several students play on one instrument, and they are big-ticket items as well. Horns in F, tenor saxophones, a bassoon, and an oboe are also on my ultimate wish list for the program. We are well-supported, but as the student population grows, the need for more equipment does as well.”

According to SCC Band Booster member Rena Hanson, a good, used baritone saxophone costs nearly $5,000. A good, used tuba runs about $3,000. Buying one of each is this year’s goal, along with music literature for both schools.

Importance of music

Koele feels music is a vital part of everyday living -- and student learning.

“Music is a language, contains history, mathematics, critical thinking skills, hand eye coordination and science,” Koele said. “To study, understand and perform music as a student means to immerse oneself in every core academic area available. It is an outlet for today’s youth to express their thoughts and feelings. For them to voice their opinions, frustrations, emotions and blessings.”

Hopkins said in addition to the academic benefit of studying music, students learn life lessons in the band room too.

“Students become part of a group and learn teamwork and responsibility,” Hopkins said. “They have an avenue for self-expression and creativity, develop aesthetic awareness and sensitivity, and acquire a sense of history and cultural tradition.”

SCC school board member and Band Booster president John Hueg is overflowing with enthusiasm for the SCC music program.

“Kim and Jason are young directors who are ‘rock stars’ with you kids,” Hueg said. “Music and the arts are as important as logic and reason.”

ExtravaBANDza event

ExtravaBANDza begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday and features a full day of events. Attendees will be serenaded by music all day. Performers include jazz ensembles from both St. Croix middle and high schools. Bands appearing include Dirty Shorts (Dixieland music), the Pink Ties (rock/pop), The Drop (rock/pop), Boondoggle and more.

Pizzas will be for sale, whole or by the slice. Paddle raffles and basket raffles will go all day. People can buy grand raffle tickets ahead of time or at the event. The grand raffle ticket price of $50 includes admission to ExtravaBANDza for two, a large JJ’s pizza and a chance to win: a seven-night stay at Wyndham Vacation Resort at Glacier Canyon in the Wilderness, Wisconsin Dells; a three-night stay at Wyndham Grand Chicago Riverfront in Chicago; or a one-night stay at Metropolis Resort with four passes to CHAOS Water Park in Eau Claire.

Donations are also collected at all band events to fund scholarships for band students, and allow them to partake in band camps and other learning opportunities.

For more information on the Boosters, ExtravaBANDza or to purchase raffle tickets, visit, or email Hueg at

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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