ST. MICHAEL, Minn. – Early morning hours are generally tough for teenagers. Plugged into earbuds, hundreds of them stream silently through the doors at St. Michael Albertville High School every day.
This year students can enter the school to a different sound track. One provided with the help of an anonymous donor.
“How often do students get to use a baby grand piano?” asked principal Robert Driver, who decided, along with staff, to place the school’s windfall front and center where any student can play it.
“Students can now sign up to play in the mornings, or they can just come and play here whenever they want to,” said senior Johnny Thunder.
“I was walking down the hallway and I was like, ‘Oh, there’s a piano there,’” said freshman Yauheniy “Eugene” Kotau. He decided to try it out. Now Kotau’s a regular, often playing music he composes. He’s good enough to cause some students to drop their earbuds and stop to listen to Kotau play.
Driver says students of all abilities are taking advantage of the gift. “I’ll walk out of the office and a lot of times I’ll see a person just plinking on it a little bit, wanting to get a little bit better at it.”
“You don’t know how good you are until you try,” said senior Ethan Cornell, who is in a group with friends, trying out their songs before a more public debut.
That includes senior Dominic Clemens- who confesses he’s more of a singer than a piano player. Still- “I love to help people be able to get a little more enthusiastic when they walk in on a Monday morning in high school.”
Driver concurs. “When you come in the door and you hear the music playing, it’s just a great culture piece for us.”