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State Honoree

Laurel Barchas

California

Laurel Barchas, 15, of Truckee, Cal., a junior at Truckee High School, started an after-school program that recruits members of her high school band to give private music lessons to elementary school children from low-income and Latino families. “I came up with this idea after I realized that music, this thing that has been part of my life since childhood, is simply not an option for others,” said Laurel. After developing a business plan and budget, Laurel met with local school and community officials to obtain support, find space for lessons, and secure low-cost liability insurance. Letters, phone calls and presentations to civic and business organizations raised almost $9,500 to rent and purchase instruments, music books, and accessories. Laurel also wrote and translated applications, letters, informational brochures and contracts for prospective students. Laurel and three other teen volunteers now provide weekly private music lessons to twenty students. “Music is a creative outlet for energy and has been proven to help kids improve in their academics,” said Laurel. “This program could just be the opportunity for the next talented musician to emerge from his or her hiding place!”