15 years ago, a group of Naperville parents founded OPUS to support District 203’s orchestra students.
It started with motivational and financial assistance, but it wasn’t long before they started offering programs – including their annual summer camp, which gets students out of the school orchestra setting and into smaller groups, where they can work more closely with music teachers.
“We give students the opportunity to have this intimacy to make friends to play chamber music with,” said Linda Yu, President Emeritus of OPUS. “And with that their interest will go longer and maybe a lifetime.”
Many participants of the weeklong camp have fond memories and stay connected after moving on – like Ryan Schiller, a former student of the camp who now takes a week off work every year to volunteer as a teaching assistant.
“When I first attended the camp I was in sixth or seventh grade,” said Schiller, who now works as an electrical engineer for ComEd. “I’ve matured a lot musically and as a person, and I credit the camp a lot with building my teamwork skills.”
And being a T.A. at the camp was a foot-in-the-door to the world of music education for Kristin Sur, who now teaches music to elementary school students in Bolingbrook.
“I got to compare how everyone I know would handle something compared to how this other person would handle it another way, so I learned a lot of tricks that I could take into my classroom,” said Sur.
Beyond the camp, OPUS helps its students bring chamber music to the community by organizing performances at churches, senior homes, and hospitals.
And OPUS wants its students to use what they learned for a lifetime.
“To see campers, students grow their interest from years back to become somebody who’s contributing significantly and using what they learned to make other’s lives better, that’s the most rewarding part,” said Yu.
A “Fantastic Fifteen” years for these music educators.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.
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