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Mark Burke is CEO and founder of mynddset

Our Ice Cream Fundraiser is Melting

It’s May and our Band Director, Mr. Sams, just told us we’d be doing ANOTHER fund raiser.  This happens every May. Just as we’re about to finish the school year, me and my band friends hike around town asking everyone we meet if they would buy a “Famous Ice Cream Cake”, the world’s biggest, sweetest, most delectable …and most expensive in my opinion, ice cream cake.  We use the money we make to buy things the band needs like new instruments, music…and, well, that’s about all I know really.  It seems like each year, we must have at least five instruments that just vaporize into nothingness because a few new instruments pop up into the hands of my friends.  Well, I guess the fundraisers are something we have to do. We do them predictably, each year. I’m not sure why I dread them so much. Maybe because I know they’re coming and I know that I’m not a good salesman, and I’m embarrassed to be selling ice cream cakes at ridiculous prices. But that’s just me. I’m told we count on the Famous Ice Cream Cake fundraiser each year. It’s our biggest one.

“Ok gang, it’s that time of year.  Here are the new Famous Ice Cream Cake brochures.  For all you new students, your section leaders will explain the selling process.  Remember, all forms are due in one week. Now, get selling”, said Mr. Sams.  I guess my rolled eyes told how I felt about the sale.  Mr. Sams didn’t see me, but the new kids in my section did.  Their smiles seemed to fade to frowns and confusion quickly.  I saved some of their excitement though by saying, “He always takes too long to pass these out and get us started. Let’s get together in the hall to talk about the brochure.”

A day after the sale started, I was walking by Mr. Sams’ office and heard him talking frantically to someone on the phone.  My band locker is right outside his door.  I couldn’t help hearing his side of the conversation.  “But, we can’t have the Famous Ice Cream Cakes delivered at 10am in the morning. Kids will still be in school and can’t start delivering them until after 3pm.  They’ll melt.”  Mr. Sams seemed pretty upset. He quickly hung up the phone and made another call.  He seemed to be talking to someone in the cafeteria about using the freezer.  I guess they worked out some plan. He seemed relieved.

A day before the Famous Ice Cream Cakes were to arrive, we started the earliest heat wave I can remember.  It was 80 degrees and the day of the delivery was forecast to be around 85.  I was glad Mr. Sams worked out the issue with the early delivery.  I was in charge of my section.  So, I had to make sure everyone picked up their order after school and understood they had to deliver every cake within 45 minutes or they would melt.  No-one really counted on the 85 degree day though.  At the end of the day, I arrived at the cafeteria to pick up my cakes.  I found Mr. Sams sitting in front of a huge pile of sticky boxes. Apparently, the freezer was already full and the Famous Ice Cream Cakes couldn’t go in.  By the time the school day ended, they had melted.

Mr. Sams told me we would have to let everyone know their money would be refunded, our ice cream fundraiser is melting.  I wasn’t really sure what to do next.  Mr. Sams just sort of sat there with his head in his hands, staring at the sweet mess as it oozed out flatter and flatter onto the floor.  I told Mr. Sams I would see him in the morning.

I kept thinking about what this meant for the band. Without the money we typically raised, would we not have any new instruments or music?  What scared me more was all the stuff I didn’t know about, the things the fundraiser paid for that I didn’t understand.  Maybe that’s what made me want to talk to Mr. Sams so much.  The morning came and I headed to school.  I had more questions than ever before about our band. What would this mean?


Music programs are currently under attack in PA. No tradition, no predictability exists.  Institutions and processes counted on for generations are simply melting away, and not slowly.  Like the story “Our Iceberg is Melting” conveys, changing and succeeding under extreme conditions requires changes to core beliefs and actions.  Those of us who count on working alone, or counted on working alone, must now find the ability to work collaboratively.  Those who believed in narrow focus, must now open up and work within a broader vision.  At our core, we must consider who we are and learn to change and embrace that change.  Like the penguins, who never considered themselves explorers, we must explore.  Even if we don’t have the physical or mental capabilities we believe we must have, we must push forward.  Now more than ever we must be CLEVER…I also believe we must realize that are JOBS were NEVER about doing the same thing year after year, we were always to be pushing the envelope of musical expression, eduction, technology and technique.  Even though it may have appeared we “got away” with being static…now, we clearly see we didn’t. Although budgets are the issue, decisions are being made based on program value.  Programs that have evolved, provide value that is current, relevant and in demand are remaining.

How would you finish this story?  What’s your take away?





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