Minuteman Band alumnus Gary Bernice ’07, ’10 MA is this year’s honoree for the Distinguished Young Alumni Award in recognition of his work with the Springfield (MA) High School of Science & Technology (SciTech) band program.
Each year the UMass Amherst Alumni Association honors alumni, faculty and friends who have translated their UMass Amherst experience into notable achievements in the business, public or community service realms, bringing honor to UMass Amherst and to their field of endeavor.
The award ceremony will take place at the Massachusetts State House on Thursday, April 23.
He started the SciTech music program in 2007 using donations to pay for instruments and teaching just 20 students. Building a quality band in a city with high child poverty rates was thought impossible. However in less than a decade, Bernice built a community of musicians at a school that had no music program and a high drop-out rate, using a teaching philosophy designed to transform his students. Through his leadership and determination, the 1700-student school now has more than 500 band members; many of who had never played a musical instrument before.