Music Matters: WHS Sophomore Kelly Russo Wants Music Classes Added to High School Curriculum

Thursday, August 25, 2011
By Cary Shuman

Winthrop High student Kelly Russo is pictured with her guitar.

Kelly Russo will stand up for students in the Winthrop school system tonight (Thursday) when she asks the School Committee to consider adding music classes to the high school curriculum.

Russo is set to make a presentation before the School Committee meeting. There are currently no music classes offered at the high school.

“Any music program that we could get right now is good,” said Russo. “I just want to make Winthrop High a better school. We have great academics, great sports and a lot to do here. But the piece missing is music.”

The 15-year-old Russo said the Winthrop High Drama Society does offer students an opportunity to participate in musicals and a dinner theater (singing and dancing), “but it’s not necessarily a music program. It’s something that’s done by the Drama Society. I’m looking for a separate program.

Russo, who takes private singing and guitar lessons, has prepared a colorful flier listing the twelve benefits of music education. She has also distributed yellow “Music Matters” buttons with her slogan, “Put the Music Back in Winthrop.”

Superintendent of Schools John Macero has been supportive of Russo’s proposal and drew praise from the student for his immediate response to her inquiry.

“I contacted Mr. Macero telling him about myself and what I wanted to accomplish and why music is so important to me,” said Russo, who hopes to attend the Berklee School of Music.

Macero responded that he agreed with her idea and set up a meeting with Russo to discuss a course of action.

“Mr. Macero told me that I could speak in front of the school committee and I accepted the invitation,” said Russo. “This meeting is very important to me. I want to show the school committee that music is important and that I understand that because of budget cuts, we’re not able to have it. But there’s so much more we can do. We have to work with what we have because we can’t just sit out and wait for things to change.”

Macero said Russo’s initiative was “outstanding.”

“Kelly emailed me and she expressed her concerns so I immediately emailed her back to set up a meeting,” said Macero.

The superintendent said he, WHS Principal Gail Conlon, and Berklee alumna Besty Ginn of Winthrop have begun the process of pursuing a grant to launch an after-school choral (glee club) program. Students would earn academic credits for their participation.

Macero, a former music teacher, also hopes to launch an instrumental program at the elementary school. He said Russo is right on the mark in determining that something has to be done to increase the music offerings at the high school.

“To not have a music program at Winthrop High School is something that we need to resolve,” said Macero.

Russo said her mother (Vicky Ferraro Russo, a Class of 1984 graduate) and her former classmates at Winthrop High had the opportunity to participate in marching band and color guard activities when they were students.

Tonight she’ll find out if she’ll have those same opportunities in music education at the high school.

“I hope the School Committee responds favorably to what I have to say,” said Russo. “This is something that’s incredibly important to me and other students in Winthrop.”

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