Auction to Help Renovate Strings Room

October 25, 2021 / Andrea Wenger
Miriam Rhodes '22, rehearses the auditioned solo piece she will play at the Shenandoah Valley Youth Orchestra fall concert.
Miriam Rhodes '22, rehearses the auditioned solo piece she will play at the Shenandoah Valley Youth Orchestra fall concert.

Update: Our auction is now closed. Thank you for joining! If you missed the auction, you can still be part of the strings room renovation which serves more than 60 students and is home to many students. Click here to make a donation.

Everyone is invited to bid online Oct. 28 through Nov. 8, 2021 to support the renovation of the “strings room” at Eastern Mennonite School.

More than 75 items are up for bid include everything from home baked (and delivered) goods to mountain getaways and home upgrades. The items are donated by individuals and businesses, including EMS families and faculty and staff members. Find a link to view the items, and register so you are ready to bid starting Oct. 28 at Fan the Flame Online Auction.

EMS hopes to raise $20,000 through the auction, which will allow for cosmetic, and — more importantly — structural upgrades that will enhance the learning environment and the school’s strong strings program. If donations exceed the cost of the project, the funds will be used for other enhancements to the performing arts program.

The “strings room,” located at the southeast end of the corridor at the bottom of the stairs that lead to the school’s main level, is part of the original 1964 building. The room has served as a choral room and classroom over the decades. In the past five years it has served as a space for students taking individual and group strings lessons, as well as rehearsal space for the orchestra string section.

Managing moisture control has proven to be a huge challenge, which is imperative for instrument health, according to Maria Lorcas, strings teacher and orchestra director.

“A renovated strings room will help us ensure good care for the investment that parents make and the school makes in stringed instruments,” says Lorcas. In addition, a new ceiling and lighting will better replicate natural light, which is not available in the room’s location. New carpet, paint and shelving, and storage area will spruce the entire space up and “create a learning and practice atmosphere that I know will energize our students,” says Lorcas.

Some 58 students are part of strings classes at EMS in grades 6-12. Twenty participate in the string ensemble and full orchestra. In addition, four EMS students and 9 non-EMS students take private string lessons with Ms. Lorcas in the strings room. Prior to COVID, EMS had launched a strings program for elementary school with all first graders taking exploratory strings classes twice per week, taught in Spanish and English. “We hope to bring that program back as soon as COVID protocols permit,” says Lorcas.

Auction sponsors are Everence Financial Services, PB Mares, Weaver’s Flooring America, Construction Materials Group, AM Yoder and Co., LD&B Insurance and Financial Services, Venture Builders Inc., and Rockingham Insurance. “We are so grateful to businesses who have stayed with us, even as COVID has changed the nature of our activities,” says Trisha Blosser, development officer. “We had hoped to gather in person for a live aspect of this fall auction,” she noted. “But our planning team is overwhelmed by the generosity of our community as we saw the wide variety of auction donations come in. There’s something for everyone and bids go to a program that will benefit many students!”

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