orchestra program is having too much of a good thing — musicians — and needs the community's help to have enough instruments to put in their hands.
The orchestra teacher, and , Victor Fernandez is organizing a fundraiser to get $10,000 donated to the school's orchestra program and room. He's being aggressive and would like to reach the goal by the orchestra's May 16 concert, but won't stop until he hits $10,000.
"If this happened for us here in orchestra, I know that it would make such a huge difference in the lives of the many, many financially disadvantaged kids I teach that this would be transformational in their lives in a very big, powerful, moving way," Fernandez told Patch.
But that's not all. Fernandez, with his flowing long hair, would also have his head shaved at the May 16 concert and donate his hair to Locks For Love — a foundation that uses donated hair to make wigs for children and young adults 21 years old and younger who suffer hair loss from any medical condition.
"We are so fortunate to receive the gift of the community and this is our way to give back and help other children out," he said. Fernandez has had cancer in his family but not in children, but as a teacher and now, a proud father, the cause is dear to him.
Checks should be made payable to Booker Orchestra with the memo line note "Booker Orchestra's $10,000 Fundraiser." Donations can be mailed to Booker Middle School, Attn: Bel Feltner and Victor Fernandez, 2250 Myrtle St., Sarasota, FL 34234.
The orchestra program is exploding, and to meet demand from students, Fernandez is in need of new instruments and cabinets to secure the new purchases.
"Last year I came in, there were 61 students," Fernandez explained. "I had 45 violins, not enough cellos, no enough basses. I wrote a Mr. Holland's Opus Grant. They awarded us $10,000 to get three string basses, five violas and five violins -- all very nice quality."
The also funded the program to have 15 extra violins.
But the program now has 85 students and after a recruiting tour of feeder elementary schools, he expects to have more than 100 to 120 students in the program.
"I just came back from Tuttle with 75 names of fifth graders," he said.
The $10,000 would buy 30 new instruments and two new cabinets, Fernandez said.
"I don't have a music budget. I feel like most programs today don't have a music budget," Fernandez explained. "Thankfully, we do have a repair budget, which is good. That really helps take care of maintenance and things like that.
"With the economy, the way it is, we don't know if that will be here long-term.
As far as the kids go, I'm really looking long-term — generation upon generation upon generation upon generation — that can have a quality instrument to play that will last them a long time, that will have a secure place to store their instruments."
The orchestra room has two cabinets now, but the rest of the instruments are on stands or a shelf, making them vulnerable to theft, he said. He ultimately would like to have a total of six to seven cabinets.
Fernandez had this idea for a couple of years, but with his attention as Sarasota County's Teacher of the Year, he felt the timing was right to make a bold statement.
"This is my only my second year here at this school and we are far from my idea string orchestra program," he said. "That will take many years to build but I thought to myself, it seems a perfect opportunity to fuse two things together and really do something nice I know the community will appreciate."
Still, $10,000 is a lofty goal, Fernandez admits, but he believes Sarasota can pull it off.
"First and foremost, I'm an immigrant person who appreciates tremendously the opportunity this country has afforded me, so I'm very conscientious of money," the native of Cuba said. "The money, I always divert it to places it will have a long-lasting effect."
Fernandez also invites the community to visit his class if they're thinking about donating to the program.
"We love visitors," he said. "We love to share our passion for music with the world."
Donate to Booker Middle Orchestra
Make checks payable to Booker Orchestra with the memo line note "Booker Orchestra's $10,000 Fundraiser."
Donations can be mailed to Booker Middle School, Attn: Bel Feltner and Victor Fernandez, 2250 Myrtle St., Sarasota, FL 34234.
Booker Middle Orchestra Concert
7 p.m., May 16 at Booker Middle