Update on 1/8/2023 at 8:45 p.m.:

Urbana High School’s band has raised around $90,000 of their $100,000 goal for renovations of the band room, thanks to community support.


Original Story:

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) – One Central Illinois band room needs a tune-up. To get there, they are asking for some major donations.

Urbana High School’s band has raised $75,000 in less than two months, but that’s not enough to meet their goal. 

For a 50-year-old band room that used to be an old locker room, the whole project will cost just over half a million dollars. A grant has already put them halfway there, but they haven’t finished fundraising yet.

They still need your help.

Every band member that walks into the band room has the same complaint: “It felt like a closet with red curtains.”

There is not enough room.

Christi Fernsberg, the band director, says each year more kids enroll which makes the need for space even greater. 

“We’re stepping over them to pass papers out,” said Ferbsberg. “We have kids everywhere, they were sitting on the floor.”

In November, the Room to Grow committee decided to raise money for renovations. 

“We have a lot of people willing to help because the band has made such a difference in their lives,” said Karen DeBauche, retired Urbana band director.

Thanks to the community, they have raised $75,000. But they want to keep that tempo up to reach their overall cost of the project: $575,000.

“We come together when we need to and that’s always my experience here,” Debauch. “I think our community is wonderful.”

The committee was able to secure a matching grant from the elementary and secondary school emergency relief fund which was seed money for the expansion. To make this happen, they need to raise $100,000, then the committee will then use sales tax money to cover the rest of the project.

Ronnie Turner-Winston, a band parent, says she can’t wait for the upgrades. 

“I just hope that she’ll be able to — as she’s going into her last year of high school, be able to experience that change before she graduates,” said Turner-Winston. “We can always count on the Urbana community to support the youth and the arts.”

She’s not the only one excited. Turner-Winston says the new room will motivate the students.

“We have momentum now and we just want to keep that momentum going,” said Turner-Winston, “and this is just another thing that’s going to help us keep the momentum going.”

“It really makes you feel happy about what you’re doing and gives you a little motivation to keep it going — pushing forward,” Mycal Turner, Urbana school district student ambassador.

They have no doubts that the band room will be replaced, but they are eager to get the ball rolling. 

The committee now has until the end of January to raise all the money. Since they’re so close, they say they would love to have the donations finalized by Christmas.