PMS eighth-grade band

Diane Crocker directs the eighth-grade band during a 2016 performance.

As a teacher in the Philomath schools for 36 years, you could say I’ve seen it all. The memories that stick with me, however, are of the kids whose lives were changed by the opportunity to experience music and the arts. There are too many stories to count.

Kids who couldn’t look me in the eye at the beginning of sixth grade, and left eighth grade with the confidence to conquer their next adventure. Confidence gained through hard work, experiencing success and receiving the affirmation of their peers. Kids who found their “place” in the space of my band room or on stage, finally gaining the acceptance they had been looking for, for so long.

You may have read an article published in this paper (Oct. 25 edition) about a new nonprofit in Philomath, called the Philomath Performing Arts Benefit Fund (PPABF). This group’s purpose is to build an endowment fund, a long-term investment, to support the future of the performing arts in Philomath schools. It is a completely volunteer effort, led by people passionate about preserving the performing arts in our schools.

And thanks to a generous donor, we have the opportunity to match, dollar for dollar, all gifts raised by Dec. 31, up to $20,000. To date, we have raised $6,500 toward that matching effort. As you think about your own educational experiences and those teachers who impacted you, I hope you may be moved to join our effort in supporting the PPABF.

Checks can be mailed to: Philomath Performing Arts Benefit Fund (PPABF), P.O. Box 11, Philomath, OR 97370.

As worthy as our cause sounds on paper, its mission is really found in the faces of the students who have in the past, and continue, to walk our halls. Exposure to the arts expands students’ view of the world. Its place in our community is crucial, and I’m proud to be a part of sharing it with our students.

If you have questions about our mission or group, please contact Kay McGee, PPABF president, at 541-207-7789 or, or me at 541-609-0018 or

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Diane Crocker is the band instructor at Philomath Middle School.