AJHS band gets grant from PCSO sheriff

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu presented the Apache Junction High School Marching Band with a check from the RICO fund. (Courtesy of AJUSD)

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu presented the Apache Junction High School Marching Band with a check from the RICO fund. (Courtesy of AJUSD)

The Apache Junction High School Marching Prospectors recently received $3,000 from the RICO Community Outreach Fund to help purchase new uniforms for the band. Band director, David Balogh, submitted the formal request for funds to the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office last May.

“The money went toward the purchase of new blouses to replace the aging marching band uniforms,” Mr. Balogh said. “The cost of replacing the entire uniform is out of our reach, but, with multiple donations and fundraising by the band parents group, we decided on the affordable alternative of replacing just the upper half.” The parent group, led by president Jennifer Fernandez, also conducted the research to find the right blouse.

“Sheriff Babeu has donated in the past to the high school music department and is very aware of the importance of the arts in education,” added Balogh. “When he presented the check prior to the away football game with Florence High School, he spoke with the band, touching on the difference in salary between those who finish high school and those who don’t, and, most importantly, about higher education and pursuing their passion, whatever it may be.”

RICO funds are generated by law enforcement activities that result in asset forfeiture proceedings. Once forfeited, proceeds are deposited into the County RICO funds and are expended in accordance with state and federal laws and guidelines, specifically, programs to support substance abuse prevention and education and gang prevention efforts.

Studies consistently show that children who study a musical instrument are more likely to excel in all of their studies, work better in teams, have enhanced critical thinking skills, stay in school, and pursue further education. Secondary students who participate in a music group at school also report the lowest occurrence of substance abuse (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs).

Editor’s Note: Dana Hawman is the public information officer for Apache Junction Unified School District.

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