Representatives of the Walt Disney World Resort made a surprise visit to East Ridge High School on Friday, September 13, with a $20,000 gift from Mickey. The check will help to support the band program after a fire damaged the band room, instruments and uniforms (Fire at ERHS)

Rena Langley, the senior vice president, Walt Disney World Public Affairs and ERHS Band Director Jack Hart

Rena Langley, the senior vice president, Walt Disney World Public Affairs, was in the ERHS auditorium along with Mickey and Disney Ambassadors Marilyn West and Stephen Lim to present the check to the surprised recipients. Rena, a graduate of Leesburg High said she realized the importance of the program and wanted to get the Marching Knights back on the field as soon as possible. The band is scheduled to perform at the next home football game on September 27th.

Principal Julie Robinson-Lueallen, ERHS Band Director Jack Hart, his students, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching, Learning and Leadership Emily Weiskopf, Ed.D., and Lake County School Board members attended the joyful assembly. School Board Member Marc Dodd expressed his gratitude by stating, “We are so thankful for Disney’s commitment to the East Ridge High band program. Today, Disney turned a tragedy into something magical in a way that only Disney can”.

The competitive Marching Knights Band, consisting of approximately 110 performing members, has received consistent superior ratings at Florida Bandmasters Association Marching MPA events and Grand Champions at many FMBC marching regional competitions. The competition season begins on October 12.

Band Director Jack Hart was feeling pressure about his band’s lost rehearsal time but with the outpouring of community support, the pressure has lightened. A Go Fund Me site has been set up. Hart is getting offers of loaner instruments from music stores and from other band programs, businesses have given donations and support and Disney has sprinkled the school with magic.  It sounds like a magical season for East Ridge High School. Go Kights!