Fifth-grade student Rita Al Shakarchi doesn’t possess formal training in a musical instrument, but she’s intrigued by the beautiful sound that resonates when she strikes the metal bars of a xylophone.
“It’s really fun to do and I like how the music sounds,” Rita said.
She may not have formal training, but she does play musical instruments.
The xylophone is one small part of the outdoor musical playground recently unveiled at Camelot Elementary, thanks to a generous donation from the Charity Ball Association.
The North East Educational Foundation (NEEF) held a ceremony to officially announce the completion of the music park and to thank the Charity Ball Association on Nov. 6.
NEEF board members, North East ISD board of trustees, Superintendent Dr. Sean Maika, as well as Camelot staff and students were in attendance to thank the nonprofit.
Back in September, the Charity Ball Association awarded NEEF $50,167 to build the musical playground at Camelot Elementary.
“Our mission is to serve and enhance the quality of life for children in Bexar county,” Charity Ball representative Susan Hall said. “This project is so special and beautiful and I think it really does demonstrate what we’re all about and we are very honored to be a part of it.”
The Charity Ball Association is celebrating their 65th year funding at-risk children in Bexar County. They are a group of all women volunteers who are dedicated to improving the lives of children.
“We feel their mission aligns very closely to that of the North East Educational Foundation, and we are so thankful they saw the importance of this program for Camelot Elementary School,” NEEF Executive Director Amy Lane said.
Camelot Elementary Principal Wilma Payne also expressed her gratitude for the funding.
“When the North East Educational Foundation and I presented this idea to the Charity Ball Association, we came with a vision, a vision that the students here at Camelot Elementary would one day experience the benefits of having a musical playground,” Payne said. “I am truly moved at how this vision has come to fruition.”
As soon as the funds were made available, the work began immediately on the playground.
Students are able to reap the benefits of the musical playground during the school day and the community is able to enjoy the benefits of play and music in the evenings and weekends.
Camelot Elementary Music Teacher Rebecca Koch is excited about the opportunities the students will have in utilizing the playground.
“Unstructured play in the playground will give our students the opportunity to explore, to discover, to experience, to learn and to develop their imagination,” Koch said. “Music will further stimulate each students’ curiosity, encouraging them to discover new sounds, new rhythms, wonder how a sound is made and so much more.”
Many of the instruments on our playground are based on the pentatonic scale, which is comprised of five of the seven possible musical notes.
“By limiting the notes to the pentatonic scale, anything that is played will sound beautiful and so a child can compose a beautiful song spontaneously,” Koch explained. “Some of the instruments include other notes as well, so that those children who are more adventurous can explore more complex melodies and harmonies and can create more sophisticated music.”
She also highlighted that the playground will be a leveler between different abilities, children with disability can participate with those who are able bodied.
“We are grateful that our Camelot students will have this opportunity not just for today, but for years to come,” Koch concluded.