Bringing Back the Arts @ Withrow HS

My name is Dennis Farmer. I am a band and orchestra director in the Dayton Ohio area and alumni from Withrow HS, Cincinnati, Ohio, Class of '77.  Withrow HS has been without a fine arts department since Cincinnati Public Schools cut the budget over 3 decades ago. Now, with a fledgling band with almost no equipment and no choir or drama, Withrow HS celebrates its centennial.
A group of alumni know as Withrow Sounds Again (on Facebook) is working to bring fine arts back! The school's arts history is storied with alumni like actress/singer Rosemary Clooney, wildlife artist John Ruthven and a host of others. And at the center of this history, a variety show that started in 1931 and ran for over 50 years. Featuring a 60 piece presentation orchestra in the style of Paul Whiteman, chorus, pony kick line, tap and ballet dancers, vocal solos duets and Quartets, instrumental features and comedy routines and a cast of nearly 400, the shows ran 6 nights until the mid sixties (when the school district admin made them cut it back) and three nights afterwards until it's last year in 1984. Shows performed to standing room only audiences of over 2000 a night in Withrow's beautiful auditorium. Sets and lighting were all done by students but looked like the big time shows from the 20's. Three hours of non-stop entertainment with all original arrangements from its talented and ambitious music directors. Talent scouts would travel from both coasts to see this musical extravaganza set in a public high school in Cincinnati Ohio.
But that is all gone. Instruments were pitched or auctioned off, sheet music lost and thrown out, the auditorium stripped of all its sound and lighting and fallen into disrepair, band room torn down and choir room transformed into a dental office for students who can't afford dental care.
Enter  Zachery Riggins, alumni from '72 and professional movie and theater stage manager and teacher. The stage for rebirth has now been set with a newly refurbished auditorium and generous donations of lighting, sound equipment, choir and set risers and curtains. The plan for Withrow's Centennial culminates with a student/alumni show in May to rival those shows from the past. Yes, we are bringing the arts back to Withrow!
A three hour show with hits from 6 decades of shows as well as new features, set over three nights.  The excitement and energy are palpable but … we still have great needs. The music department was left with literally nothing. To pull off this show and to get equipment into the hands of current students thirsty for music education that has been absent there entire lives and many of their parents as well, we need equipment.
We're raising funds to buy  percussion equipment for Withrow HS (timpani,  drum set, bass drum stand, snares, crash cymbals, mallet instruments and mallets). We plan to purchase mostly if not all used equipment so we can get more bang for the buck and we'd like to get this equipment in the current student's hands as soon as possible!

Help us bring fine arts and this great tradition back to our high school and its students! Your donation will help bring arts back to a school filled with talented young people needing an avenue to hone, develop and share those skills! Thank you for your help!

( History of The Withrow Minstrels (renamed the Sounds of Withrow in the 60's)  )
(Dennis Farmer is a band and orchestra teacher in the Dayton Ohio area and Withrow alum from '77)
Withrow Sounds Again
  • Dennis Farmer
    • $25 
    • 40 mos
  • Russ Huekler
    • $100 
    • 47 mos
  • Mark Suffridge
    • $150 
    • 47 mos
  • John Huheey
    • $100 
    • 47 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $50 
    • 47 mos
See all


Dennis Farmer
Dayton, OH
Withrow Alumni Inc
Registered nonprofit
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