PORTLAND -- Rosa Parks School in North Portland made history Wednesday night. The school held its first-ever concert featuring musical instruments.
In September, Rosa Parks became the first school in Oregon to be sponsored by BRAVO Youth Orchestras. The nonprofit provides instruments and professional instructors to teach the students in under-served areas.
"(Rosa Parks School) is 95 percent poverty and 90 percent minority, so this is where we want to be," said Dr. Bonnie Reagan, president of the BRAVO board. "We want to bring the beauty of the music of the world to these children and let them shine."
BRAVO is part of a global movement that began in Venezuela. Every year there, a national system of youth orchestras serves 400,000 children, and 80 percent of them live in poverty.
"It was overwhelming. It brought tears to my eyes," said Rosa Parks Principal, Tamala Newsome. "I quickly recognized that this was exactly this was what we needed."
The 40-member orchestra is made up of second and third grade students. They practice two hours a day, every day after school.
"We call that full orchestra," said cello player Brent Buckles.
"It sounds pretty good, unless anybody messes up," remarked the third grader.
Studies show kids who learn a musical instrument do better in math, come to school more often, and have higher graduation rates.
Newsome has noticed kids in the orchestra are already paying closer attention in their other classes.
"They're increasing their focus in that learning environment," said Newsome.
The Rosa Parks orchestra is full and there's a waiting list to get in. BRAVO wants to expand to other schools in Oregon, but first, they need to raise donations.
To learn more, visit www.oregonbravo.org.