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Gala honors association for 30 years of supporting fine arts

Westborough - Keeping local musicians in the swing of things for 30 years – if the Westborough Music Parents Association (WMPA) needs a catchphrase, that could be it.

The WMPA supports the school district's fine arts programs with an aggressive fund-raising campaign. The organization began in 1978, when the music program consisted of just a few students and fewer instruments.

The music program and the parent association grew together and the WMPA now helps finance programs than have the participation of more than 800 students in band, chorus and orchestra, as well as visual and theater arts.

The WMPA will honor its three decades of helping keep music in Westborough's schools with a gala evening Friday Feb. 29 at the Doubletree Hotel in Westborough. From 8:30 p.m. until midnight, attendees can feast on a menu that will include chicken teriyaki, beef and several pasta dishes.

Simultaneously there will be a silent-auction fundraiser, which will feature among its many items an autographed picture of Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield.

Prior to gathering at the Doubletree, parents and residents are invited a concert at Gibbons Middle School from 7 to 8 p.m.

As Westborough's music program has grown in size, it has grown in stature as well. WMPA President Judy Wilchynski said the district's music program has been ranked among the top 100 in the country.

Wilchynski is co-chairing the Feb. 29 gala with WMPA members Brenda Nikas- Hayes and Julie Pappazisis.

"We have people in the organization who have told us they have moved into town just so their children could participate in the music program," Nikas-Hayes said. "The benefit this program has been to Westborough's music students over the years is immeasurable."

Pappazisis hopes the effects of this year's celebration will be felt for years to come, by parents who get involved in the program as a result of all the fanfare, as well as by the students who participate.

"I think the longevity of this group is a testament to the families in town that support the program and keep it going," Pappazisis said. "It's very important to the students. They may not say how much they appreciate the ability to be involved in the music program in town, but you can see it in the joy they get out of playing and performing."

Nikas-Hayes, Pappazisis and Wilchynski, along with all of the other parents involved in WMPA fund-raising, hope the Feb. 29 event will bring in revenue that will go toward the group's annual budget of $28,000, raised annually by fund-raisers.

Out of that total, scholarships are awarded each year to graduating Westborough High seniors who have been members of the fine arts program for all four of their high school years. This year, Wilchynski said, 73 students will receive scholarships between $200 and $400.

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