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Big Y makes musical donation to new St. Michael's Academy

Date: 6/23/2009

By Debbie Gardner

PRIME Editor

SPRINGFIELD -- There was still one day left in the Diocesan school year, but the new St. Michael's Academy was already enjoying the generosity of a benefactor and planning for next year's programs.

On June 18, Donald D'Amour, CEO, Big Y Foods Inc. and his wife, Michele, educational partnership administrator for Big Y, presented 185 guitars, amplifiers and drum sets to Sr. M. Andrea Ciszewski, FSSJ, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Springfield.

The event, which was attended by Nelly deCarvalho, head of St. Michael's Academy, Claire Cote, principal, St. Michael's Academy, elementary, and Ann Dougal, assistant principal, St. Michael's Academy, elementary, took place in the gymnasium of Holy Cross School on Eddywood Street

The Holy Cross site will serve students attending kindergarten through grade five of the academy beginning next fall.

"We are extremely pleased to accept these musical instruments," Ciszewski said. "We are so lucky to have these new instruments for our students."

The donation was a continuation of a music program established this year at Our Lady of Sacred Heart School, which Michele attended as a child. That program was funded by a Big Y endowment through the Community Music School of Springfield, which provided instruction in drumming and choral music.

Michele told the gathering that she was excited by the potential she sees in the new St. Michael's Academy format and "the continuation of my alma mater in this new chapter."

"If we can be a part of it, it is our privilege," she said.

This will hopefully expand the program to more students," Donald said. "Everyone seems to forget how important music is [in schools]. It's one of the things that has been dropped when budgets get cut."

The donation also included instruments that will benefit students at St. Joan-St. George School in Chicopee, which Donald attended. Paula Jenkins, principal of St. Joan-St. George School was also present to accept the donation.