PASADENA (CBSLA) — A final curtain call is looming for an after-school music and performing arts program being run on the director’s own dime because its home campus, Pasadena’s Wilson Middle School, is set to close at the end of this school year.
Students at Wilson Middle School are working hard to rehearse for their upcoming Christmas shows, but it’s a bittersweet effort because they could be their last. Wilson Middle School is shutting down at the end of this school year, part of a wave of school closures in the Pasadena Unified School District due to declining enrollment.
The after-school performing arts program, which has been run by Marvin Hatchett for more than 30 years, is a staple in the community and students are sad that it could all soon end for good.
“I just enjoy the people here,” student Nikki Nittianandan said. “I hang out with them a lot and it’s fun to do all the cadences and stuff.”
Hatchett has been running the program on his own dime for the past three decades. He has a day job as a security guard, but after he clocks out, he donates his time, money and equipment to make musical magic happen.
“It means a lot to be able to touch this many lives and to be able to be a life-toucher to so many kids and make a difference,” Hatchett said.
The program includes a drum corps and a Lion Heads jazz band. Every year, more than 100 students learn to play, dance, stage production and how to drum up the drama. It’s an experience generations of students have learned to cherish.
“I like how Marvin welcomes everybody and all different types of people no matter what they’re background is, how much they’ve played an instrument before or how much they are inexperienced with something,” student Emma Hungerford said.
“They can still do something in the after school program.”
Hatchett says he hopes another school will continue the program. But if not, students will have to carry on with everything they’ve learned from it.
“I hope each student becomes a life toucher and passes on a legacy of teaching each other and caring for each other,” he said.
Wilson Middle School’s after-school program will play their final Christmas shows Monday and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.