Peters school fundraiser mixes meatballs and music

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Love and marriage. Horse and carriage. Some things just seem to go together. But how about meatballs and music?

Members of the Peters Township Music Boosters think it a propitious match. They’ve used the duo as a fundraising event for the past 14 years to raise money for the high school’s music students. Former Peters band parent, Michael Benya, came up with the idea, which has grown considerably since its early beginnings.

"Initially, he helped get the fundraiser off the ground," band director, Milt Barney of Bethel Park said. "Now we have as many as 3,000 come in for the event."

This year’s Meatballs and Music fundraiser is slated from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Peters Township High School at 264 E. McMurray Road. Patrons will be served a plate of spaghetti and two meatballs (children get one) along with a salad, rolls and beverage of choice in the cafeteria. Desserts and coffee will be served in the hallway, and patrons can take their dessert of choice to the gymnasium, sit at tables and listen to 11 different student musical ensembles perform throughout the day. The cost of the dinner is $8 for adults and $4 for children 11 and under.

"We make the spaghetti sauce in the cafeteria the day before the event using a tried and true recipe," said Andrea Michalski of Peters, fundraiser co-chair along with Lisa Briegel.

"We buy the meatballs at Guyton’s Food Service in Washington and the rolls from Breadworks. The desserts, a mix of things like cheesecake, apple pie and brownies, are purchased at Sam’s Club. Over the years, Guyton’s has been one of our big supporters and donates a portion of our order to the boosters."

Each band family sells tickets to the event and contributes $10 for the purchase of the desserts. Organizers also offer a 50-50 drawing as well as a silent auction of themed baskets such as "A Night at the Movies," or "A Spa Treatment." 

"It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year," Mrs. Michalski said.

Throughout the day, patrons will be entertained by approximately 200 music students grouped into orchestra and vocal ensembles. 

A booster, Mrs. Michalski has three children in high school’s various musical ensembles. Walt, 18, is the marching band’s drum major and a trumpeter in a jazz group. Wes, 16, plays saxophone in the jazz and marching bands, and Annie, 15, plays mallets in the marching band. 

According to Mr. Barney, Meatballs and Music can generate as much as $20,000 in revenue, which is used to pay for trips by the students to musical events. In 2011, the marching band went to Disney World, and this spring it will perform on May 26 in the Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C. Last year, music students traveled to Virginia Beach to perform in front of collegiate judges in the Festivals of Music.

"Meatballs and Music is a long-standing event here at Peters that allows our students to travel," Mr. Barney said. "This helps create great experiences and memories for them which will last a lifetime."

Booster president M’Liz Held calls Meatballs and Music a great community event.

"We’re inviting everyone to come and help support the music students at Peters Township High School," she said.

Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer:

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