Local teacher Dylan Hewitt is recognized by the Queen Latifah Show

Press release

Local teacher Dylan Hewitt is recognized by the Queen Latifah Show

A local 7th grade teacher, Dylan Hewitt, has created a Kickstarter campaign to create a ukulele orchestra for his students at Erwin Middle School. The project has gained national attention; Hewitt was invited to make an appearance on the Queen Latifah Show to speak about his project.

Hewitt was inspired to give his students the chance to build confidence and originality through the orchestra. “One issue I have seen take hold of [my students] in the past couple years is an addiction to technology. They spend so much time staring at screens; their free time and money funnels into digital entertainment and new gadgets,” he shared. He turned to Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, to raise the money for the instruments and recording. Queen Latifah is a big fan of Kickstarter and was inspired by his project, inviting him to appear on her show during a short interview. The show airs this Thursday, December 19th. Her producers are committed to following the progress of the orchestra throughout the spring, with the possibility of a performance on the show in late May.

More than 80% of students at Erwin Middle live below the poverty line, and thus do not have easy access to creative activities. This orchestra will give the chance for the students to express themselves in a meaningful way. Playing together, they will need to use their hands and their voices, cooperate to choose songs, and build confidence through performance. The Erwin students are thrilled at the idea of participating in the orchestra. “Please donate because we could bring a lot kids together and bond,” shared his student Desiree, and “please donate because many people would want to play the ukulele because it’s very interesting” stated 7th grader, Brooke.

The final goals of the project include local performances and a CD recording, capturing the work that the students will accomplish over the semester. “Creating a recording will empower my students by creating something tangible that is their own, that they can share with friends and family, that they can have as a remembrance of the value of creating something original,” explained Hewitt. The album will be completed by early June.

Despite the state of public education in North Carolina today, this teacher is standing up to make a difference and give his students a unique opportunity. Please consider donating to the campaign, giving local youth the opportunity to participate in an once-in-a-lifetime experience.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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