These days, for Kari Stebbing, “Help” is the optimal word.
When the Rim High School music director and her award-winning school bands wrapped up class on Friday, Feb. 24, little did they know the music they love to play was about to stop.
The once-in-a-lifetime blizzard slammed across mountain communities, forced a state of emergency, trapped residents, collapsed roofs and shuttered local schools. Rim High School was transformed into an emergency shelter and resource center for the imperiled.
“At a time when our program was just barely getting its feet back under it, this snowstorm hits,” said Stebbing.
When school resumed on Monday, March 20, Stebbing faced a new reality: Band practice was canceled. The Red Cross had taken up shelter in her classroom.
Reminiscent of the 2019 pandemic lockdown, the impact of the storm took on an emotional impact.
“Imagine being trapped in a house with four kids and one of them is a trumpet player.” Stebbing said crisis events leading to school closures are especially hard on students’ emotional health. “When we can’t play together, we hurt. Feelings of isolation and loneliness can be invisible and hard to recognize.”
She says that, fortunately, the majority of her students were safe, fed and warm during this time. On Tuesday, March 21, schools closed on the heels of yet another snow storm. So far, Stebbings has canceled two festival competitions and rescheduled one to a few days before spring break.
“My number one goal is music excellence. Sure, we save money when we don’t travel to competitions or give concerts but the emotional impact on these students cannot be quantified in dollars,” she said.
“We are excited to again partner with Ms. Stebbing and the Rim bands, support their incredible music program and raise funds for the student musicians to thrive and travel for competitions,” said Chris Levister, president of the Blue Jay Jazz Foundation. “Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.”
The Rim jazz band will perform a concert to raise funds on Sunday, April 23 at the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa.
The Music & Arts Center of Riverside will host “Meet an Instrument,” a hands-on opportunity for curious prospective students and parents to see, hear and touch a variety of instruments.
Event sponsor Paul Steffen, owner of Wheeler Steffen Sotheby’s International Realty, said that, rain or shine, he’s committed to keep the music playing.
“I’m here to help. It’s the right thing to do in these times of great need,” Steffen said.
Those wishing to donate may write a check to “Rim of the World High School” with the memo line specifying “ASB Jazz Band” and mail it to P.O. Box 430. Lake Arrowhead, CA 92352-0430 or contact Kari Stebbing at [email protected].