Displaced Puerto Rican students receive new musical instruments

$20,000 grant buys new instruments for 26 students

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Students displaced from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after last year's hurricanes received new musical instruments Friday.

The Orange County School District said many students who now call Central Florida home left their family and belongings behind, including their instruments.

Jacob Cardona moved to Orange County in October. He said he couldn't bring his saxophone with him

"It was school-owned. I couldn't bring it," Cardona said. 

Cardona is passionate about music. He has been playing the saxophone for two years. 

The eighth-grader joined the band at South Creek Middle School. He said he has to share his instrument with other classmates.

"Those times I wanted to play something, I was learning to play something, I had sheet music and I go to school and because it's shared, somebody else got it," he said.

Scott Evans, the director of visual and performing arts for Orange County Public Schools, said the district wasn't prepared for the influx of displaced students and there wasn't enough instruments for everyone.

"We suddenly had all of these kids and we needed to make sure we had all the equipment necessary," Evans said.

The district received a $20,000 grant from the Universal Orlando Foundation that allowed officials to purchase brand-new instruments for 26 displaced students across three schools.

The instruments included trumpets, trombones, clarinets and flutes.

Evans said it is important each student has their own instrument to continue learning and following their passion.

"Just giving them that new instrument that they're going to be able to practice on and to play in the concert on and to have something that belongs to them they can utilize in their classrooms every day is amazing," Evans said.

Cardona said now that he has his own saxophone, he can't wait to play.

"I guess I have my own I can practice anytime I want," he said.

The school district said it is accepting applications for a second grant that would provide more instruments to students in need later this year.

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