Manta Band’s budget shortfall narrows to $15,000

»Bowling tournament this weekend for last-minute fundraiser

Saipan Southern High School Manta Band musical director Will DeWitt, third from left, receives from officials of the Saipan Rotary Club the $1,000 check donation for the group's trip to the London Olympics next week. (Moneth G. Deposa)  Saipan Southern High School’s Manta Band members are getting closer to their dream of performing at the London Olympics following the announcement yesterday that the group was able to close their budget gap from $90,000 last month to only $15,000 yesterday.

Will DeWitt, the Manta Band’s music director, made the announcement yesterday after receiving from the Saipan Rotary Club a $1,000 donation for their trip to the Summer Olympics next week.

“We’re very happy to report that we closed that gap with your help and narrowed it from $90,000 to $15,000 as of this moment and we could have not done it without your generosity and the outpouring support from the community,” said DeWitt.

He said the band has enjoyed a long history of collaboration with the Saipan Rotary Club, which donated the band’s musical equipment about seven years ago. He said these precious equipment were instrumental in honing and developing the skills of band members. He estimates that over 200 students benefit from the band instruments each year.

DeWitt told reporters that the local musicians will be performing in four different events during the Olympics. These include performances at Westminster Abbey, Queen Elizabeth’s Conference Center, at a torch ceremony in Central London, and the bonus show at the Olympic Park.

The band needs $250,000 for the two-week trip to London. Since last year, band members have been busy doing fundraisers and concerts to raise the needed cash. As a last-minute fundraiser, members will hold a bowling tournament this weekend at SPC Bowling Center in Garapan from 9:30am on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are prized at $25 for three games, according to DeWitt. The group is also continuing its flame tree planting activity and seeks educational tax credit donations from the private sector.

DeWitt, along with band president Ken Orejola and vice president Steve Park, expressed their gratitude for the Rotarians’ donations and mentioned that many other donors have greatly helped their fundraising efforts.

DeWitt shared yesterday the touching gesture of a businessman who, despite the financial challenges in his own company, made a donation to the group.

“He took a loan to donate to the band because he believes in the band. These are stories that really make us feel grateful, but also put a little pressure on us to do really well and we believe we will, because we got fantastic students!” he told Rotarians.

Musically speaking, the band is all set to go, DeWitt said. The group is just putting finishing touches on their music and repertoire.

The band is scheduled to fly to London early morning of July 23.

“We’re very excited and very honored. At this point in time, it all seems like a dream but we’re preparing because we know it’s now a reality,” he said.

Rotary Club president Pete Shilling said the Rotarians are delighted to make the donation to the Manta Band. He said it’s really gratifying to see the members fundraising by actually doing something and giving something in return for the monetary support they receive. Shilling said this demonstrates the amount of efforts the members put into their trip.

If any individual or business would like to add their name to the band’s growing list of supporters, contact Will DeWitt at 989-6987 or

By Moneth Deposa

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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