Students Aqib Syed, right, and David Goni play a song together during a acoustic session at Parkview High School. (Staff Photos: Chris Stephens)
LILBURN — Music speaks to people in different ways, but for many students, the band and orchestra at school don’t speak to them for one reason or another. For those students, the only real outlet for their music is among family and a few close friends.
But that’s not the case at Parkview where fourth-year math teacher Drew Spires hosts a guitar club two Fridays a month where students can express their musical talents through the instrument.
“Mainly, it’s just for kids to hang out and jam with other students,” Spires said. “We’re encouraging the students to learn different types of music and get to know other people who share their same passion for guitar.”
For the last three years, Spires said students would ask him to teach them what he knows, but he was never able to do it. This year, however, the idea was brought by students to have a club and Spires agreed to sponsor it.
“It’s a great outlet for students to show what they can do,” he said. “We have a lot of electric and acoustic guitars spread out over a few rooms. We’re averaging about 30 students, but I’m hoping more will find out about this and join. I’d love to have at least four rooms with students in it.”
For senior Shane Maning, having the club is something to look forward to on Fridays.
“It’s fun to come in here and jam with other people,” he said. “You find out a lot about people … what they’re into and what they’re not into.
“For me, I’m mostly into reggae-rock and love playing ‘Sublime.’ But I’m seeing what others love to play and learning to play that as well.”
Senior Alex Shlikov said many students have been looking to join the club and it provides a lot of benefits.
“It’s a great outlet and a great way to express who you are,” he said. “And since we can’t do it during school, this is the next best thing.”
Spires said he started the year not sure how he was going to run the club — whether it would be formal or informal. As the first few meetings have taken off, he’s noticed certain students helping teach more inexperienced ones and others sharing their passion with some they’ve never met.
“It’s really awesome to see all of these kids interacting,” Spires said. “Most of the kids want to show up and play. If they had one of these when I was in school, I would have been there every time. We have to encourage these kids to use the talents they’ve been given.”
However, there is one logistical issue that has to be worked out by the students. With more than 30 guitars being brought on meeting days, there has to be a place to store them.
“Obviously, I can’t store them all in my room,” Spires said. “If I did, I wouldn’t have any room to move around. What I’ve told the kids is that they need to find a teacher willing to store a guitar behind their desk.
“Those teachers that are willing to do that have been a big help. Many have emailed me telling me how cool it is that this club is going on. We even have a few teachers who are willing to help out as well.”
For Maning, having the club allows him to get excited about coming to school on Fridays.
“It’s all about coming in, meeting new people and showing what you’ve got,” he said. “There’s no judging here. We all started out not knowing anything. This is just a cool environment to express yourself musically.”