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Encouraging talent in our schools: help support Fort Collins’ first student house band!

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We all have probably heard of the importance of music in schools. Students who study music are opened up to a world of creativity that can enhance learning in other subjects. Our own Poudre School District in Fort Collins offers various music programs to its students, including extracurricular opportunities for bands and choirs, but there is one group going above and beyond to showcase musical talent in our schools.

Over one year ago, Suna Thomas and staff members from Kinard Middle School noticed that many students had musical talents but were unable to play in traditional school bands. Some kids had been playing instruments such as guitar and bass for many years, but had no outlet for their creativity and talent within the school system. With the support of the Fort Collins community, the hopes of Suna and many students became a reality- one month ago, Kinard Middle School formed the Poudre School District’s first “House Band.”

Auditions were held, and 7 students were picked to participate in this unique music program. Instruments include guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, electric drums, and even electric violin. Instructor David Parsons leads the House Band, and holds rehearsal twice a week. Not only do the band members regularly show up to practice, which is held before classes begin in the morning, according to Suna they often show up early, and enthusiastically get in as much play time as they can. That is serious dedication!

And all the hard work is definitely beginning to pay off for these kids. The Kinard Middle School House Band is generating a ton of buzz in Fort Collins, earning support from the Fort Collins Music Association, Colorado Contemporary Music College, Shaped Music, Chipper’s Lanes, Valpak, and Northern Colorado radio station KISS FM. Even local music instructors and lots of music stores around town have lent tremendous support. The response to the House Band in such a short period of time demonstrates both the student’s amazing musical ability and the willingness of organizations and individuals in Fort Collins to step up and support aspiring musicians.

We look forward to hearing more from these students in the coming months. There is work to be done as the House Band continues to perfect their sound, and as the program seeks to gain more support through events and fundraisers. There is a huge need for us to foster musical endeavors such as these as they get off the ground. As Suna noted, “no one has ever done this before.” The ability of everyone at Kinard Middle School to build this program organically is truly impressive, and deserves the continuing support of Fort Collins.

The ultimate goal of the House Band program is to encourage students in their chosen activities, even when they do not fit into the “typical” system of school extracurriculars. Suna said, “We hope that the success that is achieved at Kinard will be a catalyst for others to follow in our footsteps and give more of these type of talented kids the same opportunity to be recognized.” Just imagine how it must feel for any student to know that their own interests are supported and encouraged by their own community.

Check out the Kinard Middle School House Band’s amazing musical talent here!  You can also see them play live early next year, as they have been invited to perform during intermission at a Colorado Eagles game! Beet Street will be keeping you updated on event details as this program continues to grow.

If you would like more information on how you can support the House Band program, please contact us here at Beet Street. After all, recognizing talents of all kinds is vital to inspiring true creativity and learning.

What were you thinking? Leaning about teens through scientific research

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When I look back on when I was in high school, I always think of myself as having been one of the “good” kids. I got great grades, was involved in after school clubs, and never had more than a couple of detentions. Okay, maybe a few detentions… but if you ask any parent, sibling, teacher, or child care professional, we all know now that no one is perfect. Some scientists today are trying to figure out why this is. While you can find all kinds of information on raising infants and young children- on television shows, or in countless books and magazines- not much information exists about the development of adolescents. Dr. Marie Banich helps to shed some light in this subject at Beet Street’s Science Café tonight.

Dr. Banich will discuss the new evidence from neurological studies that maturation of the brain extends much longer through adolescence than scientists previously thought. This pattern of brain development helps to explain the types of decisions and actions taken by teens. Dr. Banich and her colleagues have collected their own data, and their studies provide a clearer picture of what types of thinking abilities adolescents do and don’t have, and the age at which these abilities truly start to reach adult levels. This work gives insights into why teenagers seem to “know” what to do, but yet sometimes don’t seem to follow through on that knowledge. After this talk, you might think of the plea to “apply yourself,” so often given to teenagers, in an entirely different way.

Marie Banich, Ph.D., is a professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she also serves as director of the Institute of Cognitive Science, a multi-disciplinary institute dedicated to exploring the science of the mind. She also holds an appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado at Denver. Her research specializes in using brain imaging techniques to understand the neural systems that allow us to direct our attention and our actions so that we can prioritize, organize, and target our behavior in a goal-oriented manner. Her research helps in understanding individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and adolescents with severe substance and conduct problems, while at the same time helping to explain the development and mental maturation of adolescents. 

We can never know what exactly is going on in someone else’s head. However, we can try to be more understanding of another’s ability to think in certain ways. Dr. Banich’s presentation is likely to be an interesting discussion about how teens relate to the world around them, and how we ultimately relate to each other.

Beet Street’s Science Café  joins the international community of scientists and interested citizens who meet monthly for informal discussions of lively and interesting issues in contemporary science.  We will be meeting at Dempsey’s on 160 W. Oak St. tonight, October 14 at 5:30pm for no-host drinks and food. Dr. Banich’s presentation will begin at 6:00pm. We hope to see you there!