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Photo courtesy of KWCH TV in Wichita.

PSU’s Phi Mu Alpha raises funds for vandalized high school band room

PSU’s chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia is doing their part to give back to a Kansas high school band that has recently had their instruments and room vandalized. 

Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia has set up tables at concerts in the past week to accept donations for the Pretty Prairie High School Band. The fraternity has also been gathering donations from members of the community. 

“I’m heartbroken to hear what happened,” said Devon Ellicott, junior in music education and president of Phi Mu Alpha. “They’re very strong for continuing; they’re not just backing away from music, they’re embracing it. I’m very proud of their music director, their principal, their superintendent, for embracing the music department rather than just shutting it down now.” 

Pretty Prairie High School’s band room was vandalized Saturday, April 13 in the early morning. Three students between the ages of 8 and 11 were suspended following their vandalism. 

“We have received countless words of encouragement, offers of instruments, and patrons have made donations to our Music Department,” a statement from Pretty Prairie said. “Thank you for your support.” 

Between $50,000 and $75,000 in damage was to the band room. Many instruments were destroyed or damaged, including holes in the drums and paint thrown across the floor, walls, and over equipment. 

“Our chapter Executive Committee had a meeting scheduled the next day,” said Tim Klinker, a junior in mechanical engineering technology and automotive technology and the treasurer of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. “We discussed options for how we could help Pretty Prairie. As more information came out, I was personally baffled as to why three young kids would want to cause so much damage to a high school that they clearly didn’t attend, as they were ages 8, 10, and 11.” 

PSU’s women’s music fraternity, Sigma Alpha Iota, has also made a private donation to Pretty Prairie in the hopes that the funds will allow the school to rebuild their band.  

“This project goes back to our mission of advancing music in America,” Ellicott said. “Pretty Prairie is a tiny town, less than 1000 people, so I can only imagine they’ve spent the entire time of their school year, or school, building up this program and for it to be destroyed in one night is heartbreaking. Also, it’s in our backyard; this is something we just have to do.” 

Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia is a fraternity for men with an interest in music. The mission of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia is to support the advancement of music in America. 

“The area community has been very giving,” said Ellicott. “We’ve reached out to the community and put tables out at upcoming concerts, which is going very well. I’ve also gotten in contact with several (Phi Mu Alpha) chapter presidents throughout the nation, asking for donations and things to that nature.” 

Pretty Prairie High School is located west of Wichita and south of Hutchinson, with a population of around 6700 people.  

“Last Thursday we had the wind ensemble, Pitt State and Pitt High School joint concert, and that donation was an outstanding success,” Ellicott said. “We raised almost $500 in just one night, and we still have two more concerts, the jazz concert and the oratorio. So to the community, just thank you.” 

Since the vandalism, other schools nearby Pretty Prairie have helped the school, including instruments donated from Hutchinson Public Schools. 

“It’s just really awesome to see everyone coming together to support this tiny school,” Ellicott said. “People could just blink their eyes and it could all be over with, but people aren’t turning away so that’s really great to see.” 

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