FORT WORTH, TEXAS – About a year ago, Maite Hererra stepped inside a hulking mass of steel beams and scaffolds to find a dusty old upright piano in the heart of what would become the I.M. Terrell Academy.
Representing future goals and dreams of the Fort Worth Independent School District, the South Hills High School senior sat down and played Hark the Herald Angels Sing, envisioning magical things not yet seen. Little did she know that her own Miracle on 34th Street was about to unfold with an unforgettable trip to New York City!
Maite joined a contingent of school officials who visited Steinway & Sons to select a new Steinway Model D for the academy’s state-of-the-art concert hall. “State-of-the-art means Steinway,” noted Buddy Bray, pianist with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra who lent his expertise to the process.
From left, Maite at the Steinway factory with Vivian Chiu, Director of Cultural Partnerships and Artist Services, Steinway & Sons; Baldwin Brown, Principal, I.M. Terrell Academy; Don Devous, Secondary Choral Music Specialist and Christina Walk, Fine Arts Director, Forth Worth Independent School District, and Bryan Elmore, Director of Institutional Sales and Educational Services for Steinway Hall-Dallas and Steinway Piano Gallery-Houston.
Maite came back to her alma mater on December 7th, 2018. She took center stage inside a packed auditorium for a dedication ceremony and christened the sparkling Steinway concert grand with a performance that garnered a standing ovation.
“What a special treat to see Maite return to us and play on the very piano she helped select,” said FWISD Superintendent Dr. Kent Scribner, adding that she is continuing her studies in early childhood education at All-Steinway Texas Christian University.
The original I.M. Terrell High School opened in 1882 as the city’s first secondary school for black students. It closed in 1973, re-opened as a middle school in 1998 and was extensively renovated in 2017. The historic building is combined with a new 65,000 square foot performing arts center to form the I.M. Terrell Academy of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and VPA (Visual and Performing Arts).
“This facility is the crown jewel of our 2013 Capital Improvement Program and has been well worth the wait,” Dr. Scribner told the audience that included several high school alumni. “We are extremely proud that the I.M. Terrell Academy draws students from every neighborhood, from all of our middle schools, from privates and charters from surrounding districts. This is the hub for educational excellence in Fort Worth,” he said.
In addition to the crème de la crème Model D, the academy chose a Steinway-designed Boston GP-215 and GP-156 for the band hall and choir room in the new building, as well as a GP-178 for the main stage of the former high school. Eight Boston UP-118s uprights adorn the practice rooms.
“The philosophy that guided Steinway & Sons since 1853 certainly offers important points to ponder today as these young people evolve from their formative years.”
Ninth grade students who will comprise the academy’s first graduating class got a unique opportunity to learn some fascinating history about Steinway & Sons. Bryan Elmore, Director of Institutional Sales and Educational Services for Steinway Hall-Dallas and Steinway Piano Gallery-Houston, visited the classroom to share his passion for all things Steinway. He began by explaining the company’s four pillars of piano making: build to a standard, not a price; make no compromises in quality; always strive to improve the instrument and build the best piano possible. “The philosophy that guided Steinway & Sons since 1853 certainly offers important points to ponder today as these young people evolve from their formative years,” Elmore said. “Live your life to a standard, don’t compromise yourself, always strive to improve and be the best person possible.”
Evelyn Vi DeLong said she loved learning about the women who worked at Steinway during World War II. “I am constantly writing and talking about the small things in life that women are expected to be and do just because they are women. The fact that women had a major role in the factory while the men were at war was surprising and absolutely delightful.”
“The Steinway family helped everyone and still made amazing pianos, and are now a famous piano manufacturer, which is pretty interesting,” said Yesenia Hernandez. “It makes me realize that you can come from anywhere and still be anything you want to be if you try.”
Jaise Richardson and Madison Rangel were particularly moved by the story of Henry Z. Steinway, the great-grandson of the founder. “It really inspired me that even though he went through the loss of family, he still worked for the benefit of others and tried to make the world a more musical place. I intend on using Henry Steinway as an example of how to keep pushing even through the rough times,” Jaise said.
“Steinway helped the community by building the necessity of community,” said Mia-Lu Cole, adding she was amazed by the humility and selflessness of William Steinway, the first president of Steinway & Sons. “I will follow these four principals of success every day until I have found my purpose.”