New Mt. Hope musical honors group looks to raise money and lift spirits

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 3/14/23

This marks the inaugural year that Mt. Hope will have a chapter of the Tri-M Music Honors Society, a national honors society that began in 1936. Their first event exceeded all expectations.

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New Mt. Hope musical honors group looks to raise money and lift spirits


Mt. Hope High School has a lot of skilled musicians, and one visit to any of the school’s student-run Musicafe events will provide plenty of proof of that.

But starting this year, a sizable group of the school’s proficient performers have found an even more profound and impactful way to share their gifts for creativity with the greater community.

This marks the inaugural year that Mt. Hope will have a chapter of the Tri-M Music Honors Society, a national honors society that began in 1936 and serves to “inspire music participation, create enthusiasm for scholarship, stimulate a desire to render service, and promote leadership in the music students of secondary schools.”

“The number one goal of this group is that these students can engage in community service, and that they interact using their music with the community to take on projects and make things better,” said David Lauria, choral director at Mt. Hope and an advisor for the group. “They’ve got some exciting stuff planned.”

The society already has 25 members at Mt. Hope, and they recently enjoyed immediate success planning and pulling off their first event — a musical fundraiser held at Warren House of Pizza that went above and beyond expectations last week. The goal was to raise $250 for Crossroads Rhode Island.

They brought in $640 (which can still grow higher, here's a donation link to support Crossroads on behalf of the Mt. Hope Tri-M).

“It kind of set a baseline for us for what we can do in the future,” said Abby Bratsos, a singer and Treasurer of the Mt. Hope Tri-M chapter.
Joe Ricci, a multi-talented guitarist, bassist, drummer and singer, agreed. “I think the overall success of the entire event is kind of a testament to what this group is capable of,” he said.

The students were in charge of everything for the event, from contacting Crossroads to get a unique donation link established, marketing the event, performing, collecting donations, and even pivoting when the original date in late February had to be moved because of a snow storm.

“It takes so much more than you would think,” said Millie Piper, a guitarist and vocalist and Vice President of the society. “Just coordinating who, what, where, when, especially with rescheduling, was rough. But I think we have a really great group of kids that are always willing to show up and be there and do their best and bring their best every single time, whether that's in terms of performing music or just cleaning up.”

In addition to fundraising events, which the group will organize throughout the school year, they will also conduct community outreach. An initial idea is to organize events with local assisted living facilities in Bristol and Warren.

“I don’t think there’s very many opportunities for people our age to organize and engage in community service,” Ricci said. “That is something that has kind of gotten lost in the past couple of years with Covid and “it’s nice to be able to reintroduce that.”

“Being able to have that connection with people in the community who may not initially be aware of the music or theater department here, to be able to reach out and show how passionate we are about music and the fact that we want to influence people in our society and show how great it is,” said chapter president and vocalist Nathan Macedo. “That’s the most important thing to me.”

On top of the fundraising and community outreach, student members say that being a part of the group provides an opportunity for kids who don’t necessarily fit into traditional social circles, such as sports, and still provides a chance to earn a bounty of soft skills that will only assist them as they develop and grow into adulthood.

“You get every single skill in the book just from partaking in it, which is super fun, and I was able to perform,” Piper said. “You are also immediately welcomed and you feel like you’ve found your place and your people, which I think is very unique.”

And for musical members like Casey Ruth Little, who aspires to attend the Berklee College of Music, participating in the group is a great way to stand out among other applicants.

But the core mission holds true for all of them.

“Music is the universal language. Everybody loves music,” Little said, and Bratsos agreed. “Music is something that brings joy to all of us,” she said. “So we just want to share it with everyone else.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.