February 28, 2018

Six Music Students From Puerto Rico Sponsored by PHS Band Program

To the Editor:

Hurricane Maria is regarded as one of the worst natural disasters in history. Our musical friends in Puerto Rico suffered great loss, so we relied on the uplifting effects of music in order to help. Along with our community, we were able to sponsor six music students, two chaperones, and their director, David Rivera, from the Escuela Libre de Musica Ernesto Ramos Antonini (ELMERA). The ELMERA Jazz Ensemble students were able to spend a week in Princeton and then travel to Boston to compete in the 50th Annual Berklee Jazz Festival. We called this the Puerto Rico Project.

From February 2 thru February 13, the ELMERA Jazz Ensemble students got to experience student life in Princeton, performing with their PHS counterparts and eating their way through town. The highlight of their trip was the Berklee competition, where the ELMERA Jazz Ensemble won first place in the small ensemble category.

The PR Project concluded with the students packing nine duffel bags filled with donated supplies and equipment that they took take back home. The donations empowered the students to be ambassadors of change in their own communities.

We would like to thank the following people for supporting the PR Project: PHS music department, Pat Lenihan; PHS Principals, Angela Siso, Ben Stentz, Jane Sanchez, and Diego Negro with Princeton University; Mimi Ominski with Princeton Tour Company; Salina Paria with United Airlines; Quilts for Kids; Dr. Elaine Torres; the Board of Education, and Superintendent Cochrane. We also want to thank the following local companies for their hospitality: Despaña, Hoagie Haven, and Small World Coffee. Our heartfelt thanks to the Princeton Public Schools and the larger Princeton community for sharing in this inspiring musical experience.

A final thank you to Joe Bongiovi for leading us on this collaborative musical journey.

Debbie Bronfeld

Dodds Lane, parent member of PHS Band Program