By Luisa Moreno
The Froula Memorial Pipe Organ is once again being played at Roosevelt, after intermittent periods of disuse and repair. Thanks to students’ efforts, it once again will play its notes along with the Roosevelt orchestra.
In 1940, the Froula Memorial Pipe Organ was dedicated to VK Froula, the beloved first principal of Roosevelt, after his death in 1938. From then on, the organ was played by principal Cecil Bullock in the mornings, welcoming students to school, or playing at assemblies, until the he retired in 1965. “After he retired, the organ wasn’t used for many, many years[. . .]so it wasn’t being maintained,” orchestra student Parker Lambert says. The organ was forgotten until 1983, when student stage manager Ron Sillence found the organ and began repairing it himself. In 1997, senior Raven Bonner Pizzorno decided to rebuild the organ as a senior project, and it was played at the 1997 Holly Berry Concert. Some basic maintenance took place in 2001, but when Roosevelt was renovated in 2003, parent Andrea Wilson helped create the Friends of the Roosevelt High School Froula Memorial Pipe Organ to help save the organ from being sold or thrown away. The group raised the $79,000 to reinstall the pipe organ in the Performing Arts Center in the new Roosevelt building, and reconstruction began in 2008. Housed at the Lincoln High School wood shop, volunteers put 5,100 hours into the organ. In October 2009, an inaugural concert was held in the Roosevelt theatre. Three student organists played, Halden Toy from Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Cara Peterson, a 2008 Roosevelt graduate, and Thomas Varas from Ballard High School. Roosevelt sophomore Brendon Mcmullen composed a piece played by experienced organist David Locke, and Dr. Angela Kraft Cross also played.
George Shangrow played the organ in a second concert that year. A friend of orchestra teacher Anna Edwards, Shangrow was killed in July 2010 in a car crash with a teenage driver. “It was just kinda hard after he died,” Edwards says, and because she also didn’t have the time to continue using the organ, it was once again left alone.
Now, in 2014, the organ has been brought out again to delight a new audience. “We thought it would be awesome,” Lambert says. Edwards says the students played a big part in the organ being brought back. “They were the ones who kinda resurrected the whole thing.” Jason Dan played the organ at the recent Pumpkin Seed Concert. It will also be played at the Holly Berry Concert in December, and Edwards will play it at a Seattle Collaborative Orchestra concert in March.
Although largely unknown, the Froula Organ has spanned seventy-four years at Roosevelt. It is a memorial to Roosevelt’s beginnings, and shares its renovation with that of the school’s. Orchestra student Ava Scarborough says the organ’s revival is a valuable addition. “Not every school has an organ, and I have to say this probably one of the most unique schools. I came to Roosevelt because of its uniqueness, and I definitely think the organ contributes to it.”