New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead and the Tipitina's Foundation surprised the James M. Singleton Charter School Marching Band with 24 new instruments on Friday, Jan. 9 at the school. **
Since its inception, the Singleton Charter School Marching Band has set itself apart through exposing its students to a wide array of musical style and cultures. The band is comprised of 55 students – reaching its maximum number due to lack of instruments. As a recipient of the collaboration of What You Give Will Grow and Tipitina's Foundation's Instruments A Comin' program, the school received 24 nstruments, providing more students with the opportunity to participate in the school's band program and gain invaluable access to music education.
"Today we came out to present instruments through our instruments program to James Singleton Charter School," said Bethany Paulsen, executive director of the Tipitina's Foundation. "We are so honored to be working with Thomas Morstead and his What You Give Will Grow Foundation this year. We've been putting instruments into school band programs for more than 10 years with Tipitina's Foundation but having this extra support from What You Give Will Grow Foundation allowed us to get the entire wish list for this school band, which was 24 instruments. This will increase the number of students who are able to play, not only this year but for years to come. You really will see this gift continue to grow and touch a number of students throughout the years."
"Tipitina's Foundation is really excited about partnering with the Saints. They are such a mainstay in our community. We are so glad to be associated with them and that Thomas and the Saints would be willing to support what we're trying to do to help keep the music alive in New Orleans."
"It's exciting to be able to support kids that not only need the support but they are putting in the time and effort to do something special and be part of a team and a part of a group where everybody is all in," Morstead said Friday. "In a month, they will get one of their big rewards – they will be marching at Mardi Gras."
The James M. Singleton Charter School Marching Band was established in fall 2010 under the direction of current band director, James Rayford. In only one season, Rayford and other assistants successfully prepared 45 inexperienced students to march in seven Mardi Gras parades that spring, demonstrating the hard work and rapid progress of the band.
"It's been my dream for a very long time, since I was a kid, so it's also an accomplishment for me to allow these kids to learn their craft, get out on the streets and display that for the people of New Orleans along the parade route," Rayford said.
New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead and the Tipitinaâs Foundation surprised the James M. Singleton Charter School Marching Band with 24 new instruments on Friday, Jan. 9. Photos by Ashley Amoss.