MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Surprise Squad recently found out that the band classes at Mesa’s Desert Ridge Junior High School could use some new instruments.
One of the students, an 8th grader named Hannah, was the one who contacted the Surprise Squad. She said she wanted to do something nice for her teacher, Mr. Brian Mabry.
“Mr. Mabry, he’s awesome, he’s nice.” Hannah told 3TV’s Yetta Gibson. “I have him two hours a day for jazz band and concert band. He does a lot for his students. He’s helped me with misunderstandings with friends in band and outside of band. Some of my friends use rental instruments and when they use them, they’re really old. They’re starting to make squeaks. I actually just watched a Surprise Squad video so I thought, hey, why don’t I nominate Mr. Mabry?”
After the Surprise Squad arrived at the school, Hannah led Gibson from the school office to the band classroom. Mr. Mabry was in the middle of lessons when Gibson and Hannah walked in.
“Hi, how are you?” Gibson asked.
“I’m great,” Mr. Mabry smiled.
“We wanted to talk to you. I’m Yetta Gibson from Arizona’s Family and we got Hannah here who called us because we’ve got a little bit of a surprise for you."
“Thank you, Hannah,” Mr. Mabry smiled. “That’s great, you get a hug for that.”
“Let’s talk about why Hannah called us in the first place,” Gibson continued. “She said that you do a lot more for the class other than music. She says you talk to them about life and how to handle things that may pop up in their personal lives. Can you talk to us about why you decided to be that as well as their music teacher?”
“This is kind of a hard time for these students. I remember what it was like for me to be in 7th and 8th grade,” Mr. Mabry reflected. “To be a short, little, round, fat kid. Not really finding a lot of places that we got along, right? And to have a safe place for these students, I wanted to make sure that if they work hard, if they have that work ethic, then they can be successful. There will be times where I will see students that are down, maybe the students are not looking the same as they normally are, whether it is that they’re not as chipper, not as perky. So we just kind of talk and have check-ins and see how they’re doing. Music is a safe place. Music is a release. Music is a place for them to be creative.”
“Obviously your students have noticed and they appreciate it, just like Hannah,” Gibson said. “I don’t know if you noticed that she had something in her hands.”
Mr. Mabry looked at the two cases Hannah was holding and guessed what was inside. “Yeah, a clarinet and a trumpet, it looks like.”
“You already know what it is without opening it,” Gibson said.
“I thought you could use it,” Hannah explained to her teacher. “And I know some of our instruments are getting kind of old.”
“Hopefully this helps,” Gibson added.
“Absolutely,” Mr. Mabry said.
“Is that enough to help the need that you have for instruments?” Gibson asked.
“Sometimes students buy cheap instruments and they break right away,” Mr. Mabry said as he pointed to the clarinet case. “So I have a student that’s been loaned an instrument, so already there’s a 7th grade student in my mind for this one. And our trumpets have gone into the shop over and over. So there’s definitely a need. Most of the instruments are just as old as our students are, if not older. The school opened in 2001 and that’s when most of them were purchased.”
But the surprises weren’t over.
“Drum roll, please” Gibson said to a student who played the drums. The student was happy to oblige as Gibson handed Mr. Mabry an envelope. “There’s more. I want you to open that up.”
Mr. Mabry grinned when he saw what was inside. “Alright, $2000 from Milano’s Music. Well that will get us going.”
“That’s on behalf of Arizona’s Family and your Valley Toyota Dealers,” Gibson said. “We’re going to give you those two instruments, we’re going to have you go to Milano’s and get hopefully a couple more instruments to fulfill the need. How do you feel about that? And Hannah is responsible for all this.”
“I appreciate it, Hannah,” Mr. Mabry said as he shook her hand. “You’ve been a big help to our band. You have definitely been a student ambassador to our band program.”
“I'm amazed it happened,” Hannah smiled. “I didn’t think it would actually happen and I’m just grateful.”
As the surprise wrapped up, Mr. Mabry had a special reward for Hannah. He let her be the conductor as her band classmates played a stirring rendition of the song, “Spirit of New Orleans.”