The $1,000 grant that Sturgis Public Charter School received in January of last year was modest, but the excitement it generated among students in the Music Production Club was palpable.
“When we got this grant, it was like an explosion of energy,” said Joe Briggs Magnant, the school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Music Teacher. “They didn’t realize something like this could happen.”
For a small investment by the AFCC, the payback at Sturgis has been significant.
The AFCC grant went to support the purchase of professional recording and production equipment, allowing students to go beyond creating music and dive into assisting the production needs of the school’s drama and music department and even community events. “Most exciting is that we are now exploring converting the Music Production Club to an official Sturgis Production Team which will essentially begin training students to become stage runners, live sound engineers, and recording engineers,” Magnant said. “This will expand their connection to not only the larger Sturgis community, but also the town of Hyannis.”
For Magnant, who came to the school in 2021, these are meaningful steps. “When I was hired, we only had 2 juniors and 2 seniors in our IB music program,” he said. Today, that number has increased to 17 students in a school of nearly 425; that doesn’t count the students in Jazz Band, multiple singing groups, and the school chorus.
In the Music Production Club, which benefited from the AFCC grant, there are about 20 students who regularly attend weekly meetings and work on individual and group projects throughout the school year.
Thanks to the support of the AFCC, students now have the equipment necessary to develop a professional portfolio.
A musician who has been playing his entire life, Magnant said, the industry “has changed a lot. You have to know how to self-produce and also how to record live sound. …This wasn’t a reality 20, 30, or 40 years ago, but most people these days who want to pursue a life in music, whether professionally, as a hobby, or playing in the community, need to have these production skills.”
This is why the AFCC’s support was so valuable to Sturgis.
With Sturgis’ 529 Main Street building being used for both school and community events, students in the production club will be able to gain real-world experience in sound engineering and stage production.
“Moving forward, it’s how can get more feet on the ground, supporting projects where our students are going out into the community,” Magnant said. “The first step was getting this equipment. It’s really a dry, stale thing, but it’s necessary. We really, really appreciate it and the students in the production club are really having fun making music which is really the backbone of everything.”