Ardmore High School’s fine arts programs received a boost in the form of a $322,642 grant for new equipment, supplies and travel expenses from the Southern Oklahoma Memorial Foundation.
The grant money allows the school to order new equipment, then receive reimbursements for the purchase. Ardmore band director Chauvin Aaron said the money will help bolster the fine arts programs as AHS works toward becoming a fine arts magnet for the area.
“This is going to be a big step forward as we continue to strive,” Aaron said. “These are things that will continue to make a huge difference.”
AHS speech and drama coach Brian Gunter was already working on a separate grant when Aaron began working on one for band. They decided to combine their efforts and included requests from instructors at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
“There’s just been a lot of needs as far as equipment and supplies, so we decided it would be more advantageous if we put together a grant,” Aaron said.
The grant will provide $52,370 to cover competition travel costs for The Act and $503.74 for supplies for middle and high school art classes, while $77,448.00 will go toward pianos for middle and high school piano labs and $30,000 will bring in professional musicians who work with students in group lessons and one-on-one master classes once a week.
“It speeds up the instructional process,” Aaron said. “That grant has helped us do that, and it has already yielded results.”
About $27,591.00 will cover band, choir, orchestra and guitar equipment, covering basic things like chairs and storage racks that haven’t been replaced in decades.
“We’re really excited,” Aaron said. “A lot of the chairs we have are in disrepair, and they’re about 40 or 50 years old.”
The rest will go toward instruments and supplies for the band and music classes, as well as the elementary music students’ yearly trip to the Oklahoma City Philharmonic.  
“We feel like the things we requested are going to impact the students instructionally, whether it was equipment or instruments,” Aaron said.