Disney’s Magical Donation to OCSA


Jillian Jenks

OCSA’s Jazz A band holding the $20,000 dollar check Disney graciously donated to them.

Jillian Jenks and Halle Saldivia, Copy Editors

Jazz A band students and parents alike crowded outside the doors of the expo hall, eagerly waiting to be let inside. Little did they know that when they entered, they would receive a truly magical announcement. On March 25th, Disney announced their decision to donate $20,000 dollars to OCSA’s Jazz A band so they can attend Essentially Ellington in New York City, a Jazz festival.

“On behalf of our cast and our company, we are so pleased to help support your dreams through this donation,” said Tajiana Ancora-Brown, director of external affairs with Walt Disney World’s Resort.

Walt Disney World ambassador Ali Manion was there to announce the donation. As someone who works for Disney, she has had plenty of experiences with the arts and played the violin in her high school’s orchestra. “I see myself in all of you as a musician in high school, I was a dancer, in theatre, all in the arts. I lived in the auditorium,” she stated. “Getting to come here it’s a very full circle moment and it means the world that I get to be a part of this for all of you. It’s nice to see myself in all of you.”

OCSA’s Jazz A band was 1 of 15 bands selected as finalists. Each band will receive an in-school workshop led by a professional musician. The festival lasts for three days and allows students, teachers, and musicians from across North America to participate in workshops, rehearsals and performances. It will conclude with an evening concert and awards ceremony featuring the three top-placing bands.

Essentially Ellington is “a free program for high school jazz bands, [which] aims to elevate musicianship, broaden perspectives and inspire performance” according to their website. Jazz at Lincoln Center piloted its firstĀ EE High School Jazz Band Regional Festivals in 2006. The festivals are noncompetitive and designed to offer high school jazz bands the opportunity to perform the music of Duke Ellington and other big jazz band composers. They also receive professional feedback from Jazz at Lincoln Center and other jazz professionals in their own communities.

OCSA students and teachers were shocked and overjoyed at the announcement. “The Disney donation was very generous and everyone in Jazz A is extremely grateful for it,” said Cristian Farmiga, a student in the Jazz A band. “It doesn’t only help us make the trip overall but is also gives us more time to practice the music instead of focusing on fundraising.”

Thanks to the incredible donation, the Jazz A band no longer needs to worry about fundraising for the trip. It “was a huge announcement for us… The wonderful thing is that this trip just became pretty much cost free for us,” Mr. Connors said. “I have started working on flight arrangements, hotels and things like that for when we’re up there. Nothing is solidified yet, but we will be traveling on the 4th [of May] and coming back on the 8th.”

To the rest of the students at OCSA, Manion said to “just keep dreaming.” She further elaborated, saying, “the way you’ll accomplish those is by breaking those dreams down into smaller goals. So if you can think of things that you can do day to day, week to week, month to month… to help set you up for success, that’s going to get you to where you want to go.”

Thank you to Disney for making dreams come true! And of course, congratulations to OCSA’s amazing Jazz A band!