2012-06-15 / People

First couple of South Portland Music Boosters set to step down

By Jack Flagler Staff Writer

Cindy and Mike Fletcher Cindy and Mike Fletcher Mike and Cindy Fletcher have been involved with the South Portland Music Boosters program on some level for eight years, since their daughter Jenny, now 17, picked up a saxophone in fifth grade. So it may be surprising to learn that neither Mike nor Cindy have any musical talent. They simply wanted to support their daughter and the rest of the music students in the South Portland schools.

Since they have become involved in the organization, the Fletchers have helped the program achieve a variety of goals. The boosters help raise money to buy instruments such as tubas that students wouldn’t normally pick up, and the organization brings in artists for performances and workshops, such as local jazz musician Tony Boffa.

Jenny Fletcher graduated from South Portland High School on June 3. In the fall, she will move on to study music education at the University of Maine. At the end of this year, Mike and Cindy will step down from their roles in the organization. Mike has been president of the boosters for five years, and Cindy is the head of fundraising, but the couple said they have served every role from “water boy to uniform mom.”

“It’s difficult to sum up in to words how much they meant to the program. I’ve worked with tons of people and everyone has contributed something. Everyone wants to make sure their kids get the greatest possible benefit, but (the Fletchers) didn’t just work for their kid, they worked for everyone,” said Craig Skeffington, who has worked as the band director for South Portland High School for 18 years.

The boosters raise money primarily by providing volunteers every Saturday throughout the entire year at the South Portland Bingo Hall. In exchange, the bingo hall donates to the organization. All in all, Cindy said the boosters bring in about $80,000 a year for the music program in South Portland schools. But she also said the organization provides support that goes beyond dollars and cents.

“Our music program here is very well known and well respected around the northeast. A lot of it is because of the talented teachers and staff that we have and a lot is because of the incredible involvement with lots of parents and our really dedicated kids. You put it all together and we’ve got a pretty good package, and it takes a lot of money and manpower to keep it going,” she said.

The support of the boosters and parents was clear this March, when three South Portland bands made the bus trip of more than three hours to Mount Desert Island High School for the State Jazz Festival. About 35 parents also made the long road trip. At the competition, one of the South Portland bands won a state championship, while another group finished second in the state.

A week before the state festival, parents and boosters made another long trip, this time south to Berklee College of Music in Boston, where the South Portland High School Jazz Ensemble placed second in its division among schools from around the northeast United States at the Berklee High School Jazz Festival.

“Wherever the kids are going, at whatever level, out of town, they come out to perform and there’s always, as they put it, ‘the sea of red’ out there. The parents are there to cheer them on,” Mike said.

At times, the Fletchers have taken their support to the extreme. Like the summer day last year when temperatures climbed above 100 degrees, and Cindy left the air conditioning in her van running so that the sweaty, exhausted members of the marching band could relax in the cool air before heading back to practice in the high school parking lot.

Mike, 58, spent much of his life in Canada, where he worked as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Montreal. Cindy, 53, is a South Portland native who convinced Mike that Maine was a great place to live after the two met in Arizona. Mike retired after 20 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, then moved to the lower states. The couple has lived in their house on Briarwood Road for more than 20 years.

After being involved with the South Portland schools for so long, Mike and Cindy said they aren’t quite sure what project they’ll be involved in next, aside from going to the University of Maine to support Jenny, who will participate in the school’s marching band and pep band.

“There’s a group of parents whose kids are finishing school, so right now it’s going to be kind of a void in everyone’s lives, but we’ll still keep contact with them. I’m sure we’ll find some things to be involved with,” Mike said.

“We look forward to some change. Change is good,” Cindy added.

After the eight years of work, hundreds of thousands of dollars raised, and countless hours of manpower the couple have put in, some of those involved in the South Portland music program may disagree.

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