Music Teacher's Dream for Outdoor Music Park Becomes a Reality Thanks to Rotary Donation

The Valle Verde Rotary Club of Green Valley joined members of the Continental Elementary School District Governing Board to celebrate the completion of a music park at the school. The park was the result of a Valle Verde Rotary Club district grant and the park includes multiple outdoor musical instruments for the Continental School Community to enjoy.

Valle Verde Rotary Club and Continental Elementary and Middle School are located in Green Valley, South-central Arizona, 60 miles north of the Mexican border.

The music park was the brain-child of Joe Ferguson, the Continental School Band, and Middle School Music Teacher.

Joe told us “I visited the Reid Park Zoo and Tucson Children’s Museum in Tucson, Arizona, and saw that they had outdoor musical instruments. I thought about how great it would be to have instruments placed around campus at Continental to service our different age groups. I found Percussion Play while searching for instruments online and with the help of Seth Mruzyn our Elementary and Orchestra teacher, put together a phased proposal involving the installation of various outdoor musical instruments in four different areas and then started looking for donors.”

Fortuitously, the Superintendent of Schools Roxana Rico, is a member of the Valle Verde Rotary Club who has a history of helping the Continental School, having been involved with several projects previously, including the purchasing of birthday books for all the children and a grant to put equipment and books in the school library.

Gary Friedman, a Valle Verde Rotary Club director picks up the story, “Each year we try to participate in a district grant from our Rotary District 5500. Roxana told us about a wish that Joe Ferguson had about a music park on the school grounds and that it was to be purchased and installed in phases. We talked to Joe and he submitted the different phases he had in mind. Due to the District 'fund-matching’ the amount the Club is able to donate, we were able to purchase the most costly phase of the overall project. Phase 3 was $8000.00 so we applied for a grant from the district for $4000 which we were delighted to receive and our club was able to put up the other $4000.”

Once Joe had placed the order with Percussion Play, a ‘work-day’ was planned to construct the instruments and install them at the school. The construction day was a real team effort with many Rotarians participating, working alongside the principal, teachers, and staff of Continental School. The area was cleared, holes dug and instruments assembled and the ‘Valle Verde Rotary Music Park for the Continental Community’ was completed within a few days.

Joe continues “At this point, we have installed the instruments in two locations. One for preschool and the other closer to the middle school. The instruments are currently being used by our special education department regularly and will be available to any student before or after school - when COVID mitigation relaxes. They will also be available to be played by the greater continental school community when visiting the school or attending any of our events."

“The instruments will help create a sense that music is a central component of Continental culture. They will also provide a valuable resource to our counseling, special education, and speech departments as they provide services to students” added Joe.

COVID-19 Temporarily Stops the Music

The impact of COVID-19 is far-reaching and like so many schools the Continental School has had to make changes to the normal school day and this includes restricting access to the outdoor musical instruments for now.

“We are very pleased with the instruments, and my colleagues and the school community are impressed with the quality. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the reception has been a little muted. There was a little 'pomp and circumstance' with the dedication ceremony; however, since then the instruments have sadly not yet seen much play. Visitors have been barred from entering the school and students have been discouraged from using outdoor equipment that is not on designated playgrounds”.

“However, those who have seen the instruments are excited and like the addition to campus. It is my goal to install instruments in two more locations on campus provided adequate funding is secured.”

The music will return to the Continental School - so watch this space!