(Lynchburg, VA – April 22, 2023) - The Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation (GLCF or Foundation) hosted an event “Celebrating Lynchburg City Schools Strings – Past, Present, and Future" event on April 20 at the Academy Center of the Arts Historic Theatre.

Kathryn Yarzebinksi, President & CEO of The Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, announced the total amount raised to date for the Ginger Paris LCS Strings Fund. “Our original goal was to raise $100,000 by April 20,” said Yarzebinski. “We are thrilled with the response from the community and are pleased to announce that over $126,000 has been donated to date. Gifts of all sizes are pouring in from people whose lives are enriched by the LCS Strings program. These donors are supporting an endowed fund that will benefit the LCS Strings program in perpetuity.

The fund is named in honor of Ginger Paris, who, in 2023, began her 50th year of instructing Lynchburg City Schools (LCS) elementary students in the Suzuki violin method. Mrs. Paris has, through her tenacity and dedication, helped to build a remarkable program that has benefited countless students and is a beloved local tradition. She is the current LCS Director of Strings.

The Lynchburg City Schools Strings Program is the only program in the Commonwealth of Virginia that offers free Suzuki violin lessons to all K-5th grade students and orchestra to all 6th-12th grade students. Currently, over 850 students (over 10% of the student population) are involved in the LCS Strings Program.

"For the past 50 years, Mrs. Ginger Paris, alongside her fellow strings teachers, has been instrumental in providing the opportunity to learn and appreciate great music. The LCS Strings program, unique in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is free to all LCS students and makes a significant impact on their academic experiences, and enriches their lives. With the launch of this fund, we want to honor Mrs. Paris and support the LCS Strings program, ensuring that future generations of students will benefit from this invaluable musical experience," said Drs. Terry and Bob Brennan.

This fund will provide an annual grant for the LCS Strings Program, beginning in August 2024. The fund will be held in perpetuity at the GLCF. The grant will be paid to The LCS Education Foundation, a separate, non-profit organization that supports LCS, and will be used for such needs as repairs to instruments, for equipment, and for the annual Suzuki Festival, etc.

Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Conductor David Glover served as emcee and speakers included Dr. Kathryn Yarzebinksi, President & CEO of The Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation; Dawn Wise, Executive Director for Lynchburg City Schools Education Foundation; Dr. Crystal Edwards, Superintendent of Lynchburg City Schools; Michelline Hall, Chief Programming Officer at the Academy Center of the Arts (ACOA); Phinees Robert, ACOA Artist in Residence; Drs. Bob and Terry Brennan, founders of the Ginger Paris LCS Strings Fund and honoree Mrs. Ginger Paris, Director of the LCS Strings Program.

A volunteer steering committee led the fundraising campaign and event planning. Local businesses have stepped up to offer their support and to match donations. Over 75 alumni of the LCS strings program sent testimonials in, speaking to the profound impact the program had on their lives. “It’s not entirely untrue for me to say that LCS strings literally set me on the path I have followed for my entire life. I am now 41 years old and have built my professional and personal life around music, and I may not have had the opportunity or encouragement without the program. It really was, and is, one of the most genuinely amazing programs I have ever been involved with. I run a violin restoration business and have been involved in instrument restoration for almost 15 years. I also compose music on the side. I play in a few bands, and have participated in a few local symphony orchestras, wedding quartets, artist collectives, and other productions in the Metro Richmond region,” shared Adam Birce, a 2001 Heritage High School graduate.

Andrea Parisi, a 2000 graduate from Heritage High School said, “The LCS Strings Program was my solace during the school day; a safe refuge filled with the lovely sound of strings music that I'm sure positively impacted my academic performance as well. It made me be in touch with an area of my brain and my life via music that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to tap into I don't think. It was a source of added joy and calmness to my life.

Former City of Lynchburg Vice Mayor and 2007 graduate of E.C. Glass High School Beau Wright said, “Education is a profound vocation. The potential for impact is nearly limitless, particularly in a student's formative years. Articulating what Mrs. Paris has done for Lynchburg is nearly impossible. But if anyone embodies the profession — its commitment, its skill, its promise — it's Ginger Paris. Our community owes her a very great debt.

Birce, Parisi and Wright performed in a 20-piece “one night only” LCS Strings Alumni Orchestra performance led by Conductor Mr. Jim George, E.C. Glass High School ‘93 that concluded the program on Saturday evening.


The Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation works to solve our community’s greatest challenges by providing grants and scholarships, and by helping individuals, families, and organizations create their charitable legacy. For more information on how to apply for a grant, to start your own charitable fund, or to make a gift to one of the existing funds at the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation, please visit www.lynchburgfoundation.org.


History of the LCS Strings Program

The Lynchburg City Schools Strings program was founded by Rudolph “Rudy” Hazucha in the fall of 1970. Mr. Hazucha was a graduate of Cleveland Institute of Music and received his B.M. and M.A. degrees from Eastman School of Music. While at Eastman School of Music, he was introduced to the work of Japanese violinist Dr. Schinichi Suzuki. The Suzuki method teaches young students to play violin in the same manner they learn to speak: by listening and repeating sounds. Mr. Hazucha’s pilot program brought Suzuki violin to four Lynchburg schools. It was so successful that school administration decided to implement the program citywide, and Bruce and Ellen Habizruther were hired in 1971 to help lead the program. In 1978, Mr. Hazucha left LCS and Mr. Habitzruther became the Director of the LCS Strings program. During their time at LCS, the Habitzruthers taught at all LCS schools except Paul Munro Elementary and Bedford Hills Elementary. Mrs. Habizruther taught at R.S. Payne Elementary, Sandusky Elementary, Sandusky Middle and Linkhorne Middle while Mr. Habizruther taught at E.C. Glass High, Heritage High, and Linkhorne Middle. The Habitzruthers led European tours of the combined middle and high school orchestras in 1990,1993,1996 and 1999. The orchestras took first place in many of the East Coast competitions they entered.


Mrs. Ginger Paris, Current Director of the LCS Strings Program

Ginger Paris began her teaching career in 1974 as an elementary strings teacher. After Bruce and Ellen Habritzruther retired in 2001, Mrs. Paris took over as Director and continues to hold that position today.

Mrs. Paris has taught thousands of students to play violin throughout the past 50 years. Whether those students are currently using these skills as professional musicians today, or enjoying their music education as a hobby, the impact Mrs. Paris has had on them provided a foundation for their adult lives. Music education enhances brain development, fosters social interactions, and builds self-confidence.


Additional LCS Strings Alumni Quotes:

With violin, I felt like I learned about team dynamics. My cousin played first violin in the orchestra, and I always played second violin. We learned how the two parts (combined with the violas, cellos and bass) joined together to play beautiful harmonies. More than once, we played together for our church's youth talent shows. Very recently, a former classmate told me that the first thing she remembered about me was the fact that I always had a violin, and she had never seen an African American with a violin before, and she thought it was so cool that I knew how to play.

But LCS Strings did not just impact my musical journey - it helped to shape my human experience. In 10th grade, we traveled to Paris, France, Cologne, Germany, Amsterdam Holland and Brussels, Belgium and we played there as an orchestral group. I did not realize at the time how life-changing this experience would be for me. Being abroad and experiencing other cultures completely changed my outlook on the possibilities for my life. I really "got" that who I could be was not confined.

LCS did not just impact my musical journey in a great way -- it literally transformed my life and stretched my beliefs in my potential as a human being.
– Holly Rodriguez, E.C. Glass High School ‘92

I definitely do not think that I would be where I am today, much less a music major in college, had it not been for the LCS Strings Program. Being involved in the LCS Strings program and playing my viola not only put me on a career trajectory eventually, but also helped and saved me in so many ways. Through my instrument and orchestra, so many things that were going through my teenage head were able to be released and consoled through practicing, playing and performing as a group, and just being a part of something where my awkwardness and differences were accepted, it really helped me grow and saved me in so many ways that even I can't imagine or put to words.
– Jim George, E.C. Glass High School ‘93

Each of the members of the LCS Strings faculty brought such joy to my life and created a much more enriching life for me then and now. Music became an integral part of my life and in how I in turn raised my children. The program was a brilliant training for figuring out my music education, my love of music, and my life as a whole.
– Sarah Beimler Kennedy, Heritage High School ‘93

I am a professional musician, playing throughout the Washington and Oregon regions as a jazz fusion artist. Beginning music classes with Mrs. Paris changed the trajectory of my life. It is because of her and the Habizruthers that I have perfect pitch, and have the ability to be a musical chameleon, playing a wide range of musical instruments. Learning from all of them changed my life in a fundamental way.
– Aaron Bang, E.C. Glass High School, 1989

I am a violist in the Manassas Symphony Orchestra and I am an elementary strings teacher in Prince William County Public Schools, and also maintain a private studio. Congrats to Mrs. Paris on a lifetime of impact on countless children/adults.
– Jeff Ohmart, Heritage High School ‘04

Participating in the strings program throughout my primary and secondary school years helped me gain an appreciation for the arts in many ways- I participated in my college orchestra, I actively seek out musical performances whenever I travel, and I expose my children to a broad spectrum of music and arts. Additionally, I have formed a connection with patients who share a mutual love of music and playing instruments.
– Lisa Larkin, E.C. Glass High School ‘97

I can still play songs from the Suzuki book that I learned as a child. It also makes me appreciate the violin.
– Gabby Milam, E.C. Glass High School ‘88

I asked Mrs. Paris when Elliott was in Kindergarten before the Christmas concert why they played this extremely hard instrument. She said be patient, our best players start in kindergarten. She was right! Elliott became 19th in the state his senior year. Strings helped my kids in other ways by becoming disciplined, precise and skilled. These translated into good academic behavior.
– Carl Putnam, parent of Elliott Putnum, E.C. Glass High School ‘22

Playing violin has been with me throughout my whole life for as long as I can remember. It has brought me so much joy to share music with others and to be able to teach young students how to play. Music is a wonderful way to express feelings and bond with others and I would never have the gift of playing violin if it weren’t for Mrs. Paris.
– Eva Hey, E.C. Glass High School ‘18

Learning to play the violin at a young age taught me the importance of practice and persistence. It gave me skills of memorization that have served me throughout higher education. It exposed me to art and culture. It allowed me to be part of a group that could be better together than individually possible.
- Lindsay Riordan, E.C. Glass High School ‘13

As a working photographer, learning violin via the LCS Strings program was a key part in enabling a pathway toward a creative profession. Violin allowed me to develop hand eye coordination that gave me a real head start in excelling with photography, and outside the box thinking in general. It also gave me good habits for practicing a craft like photography (and many other things!) until it's fully mastered.
– Sam Hurd, E.C. Glass High School ‘03

I’m a professional violist who performs with many contemporary music groups, orchestras, and chamber music in New York City and even for traveling around the country. I founded the Seven Hills Chamber Music Festival in Lynchburg VA, entering its fourth season in 2024. The festival brings together musicians from across the world together with Lynchburg musicians, to perform free concerts in the community.
– Dudley Raine IV, E.C. Glass High School ‘15

I asked my mom as a five-year-old to take electric guitar lessons, and instead she signed me up for Kindergarten Suzuki lessons with Mrs. Paris to learn the violin! It is a testament to her and to the LCS Strings Program that I stuck with the violin at LCS for the next 13 years. This program helped build confidence and capabilities in performing, allowed me the opportunity to see the world through international competitions, and instilled a deep appreciation of music. Thank you, Mrs. Paris, and on behalf of the many students whose lives you touched - congratulations on this fund!
– Britta von Oesen, E.C. Glass High School ‘95

The strings program at LCS is phenomenal and the community is so fortunate to have so many wonderful strings teachers IN the schools. My four oldest children learned so much playing the violin at LCS and thoroughly enjoyed it.
– Becky Davis, LCS Strings Parent

I spent many years both attending classes and performances for my older siblings and being involved in them for myself. Mrs. Paris taught me the value of persistence and practice. That with endless hours of holding an egg carton in between my chin and shoulder, one day, I too, can be a real musician. I learned a lot about music, and the way it’s structured. Having a solid background in classical music allowed me to learn and appreciate all kinds of music. It also allowed me to learn a new instrument at a more rapid pace. I played the violin, viola and bass at LCS and now play the bass guitar. I’ve played live music for 10 years.
– Beth Flanary, E.C. Glass High School ‘06

I am currently a strings teacher in Lynchburg City Schools. Without the strings program, I may have never become interested and invested in music. I decided at 11 that I wanted to become a music teacher, at that time I had been playing the cello for three years. I am so grateful for the time and energy my teachers were able to contribute to my life. It was important to me when I became a teacher that I was able to give some of that back to the next generation of musicians. I’m so fortunate to get to do that in Lynchburg as part of the LCS Strings Program.
– Anna Hutcherson, Heritage High School ‘12

I have been a member of the William & Mary Symphony Orchestra for the past three years and play the occasional gig for events. I owe almost all of my musical and instrumental knowledge and success to the LCS Strings program and am incredibly grateful for the wonderful opportunities the program and my amazing teachers and conductors have given me.
– Katie Salmon, E.C. Glass High School ‘21

The LCS Strings program was very important in my musical development during my elementary years, and it helped me better prepare for coming into middle school by playing in the orchestra. It got the violin into my hands and gave me the needed instructors to help guide me. Without it, I probably would have never played the violin. I play the violin for chamber music in weddings and other special events. I’ve also been hired to play for orchestra work. I still play in my university’s symphony orchestra, and I also continue to take lessons.
– Zachary Hardin, E.C. Glass High School ‘23

Thank you for planting the seed of music in my young heart, mind and soul that has grown into a tree of music that has different branches or genres I’ve grown to appreciate over the years. The LCS Strings led me to have a wonderful musical journey such as playing in various pit orchestras using official Broadway music and helped me have an eclectic taste in music.
– Lee Irvin, ECG 2006


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The Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation works to solve our community’s greatest challenges by providing grants and scholarships, and by helping individuals, families, and organizations create their charitable legacy.

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