Middle School Orchestra Loses Music and Instruments in Fire

PENSACOLA, FL (WKRG) —  An act of nature has taken the rhythm out of the orchestra program at Workman Middle School.  Quick community action, both locally and across the country, is resetting their tempo.

Tuesday night, the auditorium at Booker T. Washington High School filled up with students, parents, and faculty attending an end of the school year concert put on by the school choir.  Two of the singers say Tuesday’s concert would have a little more heart because they knew the proceeds would be helping a program that just lost so much.

“It’s…. devastating!” Christina Friederich exclaimed as she sorted through charred papers.  Teachers educate students about much more than school.  A life lesson was the topic Saturday morning in the form of destruction.

“We vacuumed Friday before we left,” said Friederich, the orchestra teacher at Workman Middle School.  She was talking about the new portable orchestra room they had just started using in March.  “We literally cleaned the room, vacuumed the floor…The chairs were neatly stacked in the corner, Saturday morning there were no walls. But the chairs were still neatly stacked.”

The portable was destroyed in a fire over the weekend.  They believe the fire was started by an apparent lightning strike.

“The middle school all time favorite song… And we play every fall at the concert… Is ‘Fiddles on Fire’!”  Friederich said with an ironic laugh while talking about how the kids were using some humor to get through the tough situation.  “And we laughed about that today.”  She played the song after the interview was finished.

They’ve kept their spirits high with the help of some friends.

“Cause if it were my instrument that got burned… I’d want people to do something,” said Sarah Schroeder, a member of the Booker T. Washington High School Choir.

Booker T. Washington Choir made the decision to donate proceeds from their concert Tuesday directly to helping Workman Middle School begin to replenish the objects that can be replaced.

“It is a large loss,” said Julia Boswell, also a member of the choir.  “To lose that much music, that many instruments, and that much history….”

As for the things lost, like decades old sheet music, concert programs, and memories, the orchestra will pick up at the intro and bring in a new cadence.

“There’s a reason behind it,” said Friederich.  “Only good can come from this. We’ll rise from the ashes. The community has been great. We’ve got a lot of good things to look forward to.”


Workman Middle School is accepting donations in several different forms.  If you’d like to donate a violin, viola, cello or bass, call the front office at 850-494-5665.  Ask for Traci Sturgeon.

To make a financial donation, you can make out a check to ECPS Foundation and write ‘Workman Orchestra’ on the notes line.  Mail those checks to Workman Middle School, 6299 Lanier Dr., Pensacola, FL 32504.  Write Attn: Traci Sturgeon on the envelope.



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