One Year Anniversary

By Monika Vischer ~ Board Chair, Sistema Colorado

Has it already been a year since I made my way through the century-old halls of Garden Place Elementary, wondering what and who exactly I would see in the cafeteria on day one of the after school program?

Would students show up, or would the room be empty?

As it turns out, we had nothing to worry about. There were 30 third-graders signing in to be in the orchestra, eager to dive into the vast, magical, transformative world of music. That was Jan. 9, 2012, and look how far we’ve come. We are now serving more than 100 students during school hours, and 80 after school.

We can’t overestimate the importance of our close partnership with Garden Place, led by Principal Rebecca Gaustad. Each day, music teacher Monica Johnson works alongside Sistema Colorado’s Lead Teaching Artist William Hinkie in serving all 4-year-olds and kindergartners. William also leads the after-school program with a stellar staff of teaching artists―a team without which our program would be nothing. The bond they’ve formed with students through ensemble music is paramount, rising above the instruments they teach. This week their lessons will expand to include violas and flutes for the first time. If you could only see the orchestra (and choir) right now!

In fact, you can. Our students perform regularly at Garden Place and in the Denver community, most recently at the Denver Art Museum in early December (performances are noted on our calendar, to the right on this page). This Saturday, Jan. 12, the students will lead a workshop, and give their parents, families and community members a music lesson on their respective instruments.

Last year was fruitful for us in other ways, too. How fortunate we are to have found our new Executive Director Jan Brennan, who is leading the way with undeniable passion, skill and determination to grow Sistema Colorado across Denver and the state. With her, our board can now mature, and do its work to spread the word about Sistema Colorado and grow our support base.

In the end, though, it is you, our funders we appreciate most of all. We can never say “thank you” enough to you. You believed in us even before the program got off the ground.

Thanks foremost to The Piton Foundation, Terry Minger, Meredith Miller and Veronica Figoli (now with DPS). You and your board were the first believers in early 2011, a true partner in fueling that spark that flourishes today. We extend huge thanks also to the Merage Foundations, the Gates Family Foundation, the Donnell-Kay Foundation, the Denver Foundation, and the Timothy & Bernadette Marquez Foundation.

Last, but not least, we extend heartfelt gratitude to our individual donors for investing in the future of our children, through Sistema Colorado. Your support, and the support of our partner foundations, has already had a huge impact on the Garden Place community. Wait until you see what 2013 brings!

We’re looking forward to an even brighter year ahead.

– Monika