Help Keep Gracie at Interlochen Arts Academy!

For: Grace Smith
Wyandotte, MI
Organizer: Anna Smith
Help Keep Gracie at Interlochen Arts Academy! (Grace Smith)
of $21,500 goal.
Raised by 92 donors
25% Complete

The Story

Goal update: We have updated the fundraiser goal to reflect the additional $13,000k we need to raise for her senior year. That is the gap we will be fundraising for next year based on the cost of senior year tuition for 2017-2018 (senior year tuition is higher than 9-11th) and the amount above my income I'm able to contribute. The amount may change if tuition costs increase and will be updated when tuition information becomes available for 2018-2019. I'll also be updating the information found here soon. Please see our updates section to find out our most recent adventures and news!

Original description:

Prelude: [This fundraiser is about my daughter, about whom you will read in a second, but I wanted to begin by saying I am a woman who does not deserve the amazing people she has in her life. After posting our news on Facebook, I received several messages from people who want to do whatever they can to help Gracie reach her goal. I am so humbled that I am surrounded by such kind, generous, and supportive people who support me and my children in their goals and dreams. It is because of these amazing people and their insistence that I am setting up this page to tell our story and to give people a way in which to donate if they so wish. This is a very large undertaking and I feel it is one that is my responsibility to figure out as her parent. It is only because people actively want to help and because this is such a rare opportunity for a chance few are offered that I am swallowing my pride and making this public. Thank you to everyone who has ever supported us in any way. Without our tribe we would not be where we are today, whether or not she attends the academy. All my love to you all!]  

So, what's this all about anyway?  One year ago Gracie was on an adventure I was sure we would never top. She auditioned for and was accepted into the six-week orchestra program at Interlochen Arts Camp. It was an amazing experience and one she enjoyed every minute she was there. She learned a tremendous amount and the experience was one she was so very grateful to be able to participate in. At that point she had been studying cello with a private teacher for just a hair under two years. In the cello world (and probably the music world in general) that is very late and requires a lot of ground to make up.  

After raising the funds herself to attend her high school music department's trip to New York City, she returned inspired and asked if we could simply complete the application for admission to Interlochen Arts Academy, the boarding arts high school. I saw no reason to not apply. When you never ask, the answer is always no. If it didn't work out, it would not mean the end of her musical career. However, it did mean, if she were to be admitted, that she could focus on her music and academics in a way she can't quite here and would allow her to focus entirely on preparing for the next steps in her journey.  Yesterday we got the news that she was accepted. 

We have until Monday, August 7th, to secure her spot.  

[Before anyone gets too excited this isn't yet a thing. It may not end up being a thing. They offered her a wildly generous scholarship but it's still about $6k more than we could take on to do this in tuition alone. Books, fees, travel, and the required purchase of a Macbook for use with music software means another $2500 or so. It's amazing how close you can be to a dream yet still be just out of reach.]

She's over the moon that she was accepted to begin with and we are proud beyond measure. That in and of itself is a great honor. It's a rare opportunity. She wanted to give applying a shot fully knowing that it might not happen because that's how life works sometimes. Her ability to accept that reality so maturely and without entitlement, grateful that she could even make the attempt, blows me away.

If this doesn't happen then so be it. No one dies and she remains involved in excellent ensembles, has an excellent teacher both at school and privately, goes to a fine school that gives her academic opportunities to challenge her and extracurricular activities that enrich her experience. We are more than blessed no matter what and for that we are tremendously grateful. I'm not going down without a fight but to have this type of "problem" is the type of problem I'd prefer in life.  If we can not make our goal, any funds collected will be placed in a separate account to be used only to send Gracie to Interlochen Arts Camp next summer. All funds are for Interlochen-related things only.

Wish me luck as I throw that Hail Mary pass.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on January 21, 2018


Posted on January 21, 2018

I’m still up in the middle of the night because I’m engrossed in the biography of Joseph Maddy and it’s actually really good. It’s also extra interesting given it was published in 1963 so it was being written right before the Academy opened its doors in 1962, 50 years ago. There’s nothing much in the book about the Academy since when the book was being written, it was pretty much a hole in the ground. It’s mostly about Dr. Maddy’s childhood, the development of his career, and history of the camp. 

I’m finding he and I have a lot in common in regard to digging large proverbial holes for large dreams and then afterward figuring out how to fund those dreams. He was a master at writing letters and persuading people to believe in him and his vision to educate children in music. Somehow he’d find ways to pull it off through fundraising and people who believed in him, even in the depths of the Great Depression. It’s a bit more relatable after having completed the arduous task of filling out financial aid forms for next year. I’m pretty sure the FAFSA isn’t as detailed as I’ve been on this application. It’s taken me a few days to research facts and figures and finances. No financial detail has been left unexamined. 

Also fascinating is that the book I checked out from the local library has simply a plain cloth binding and has a stamp in it that they received their copy in January of 1964. There’s still a cardstock envelope mounted on the back cover where the card that was stamped when you checked the book out was kept and it’s in pristine condition. I’m probably the second person to check it out of the library ever. Anything affixed to the book except for the barcode sticker was typed on by hand on a typewriter. It’s a wonderful relic and the smell of an old book is really unmatchable. 

Thank you to those who have recently donated. Be assured every dime goes straight to her tuition and is greatly appreciated. You are all a reminder of the good that remains in the world. Thank you for your continued support. Let’s fight on to get her through this year and then back there to graduate next year! 

Posted on January 7, 2018


Posted on January 7, 2018

That moment when you feel an overwhelming sense of pride knowing your kid was chosen to be in a Mendelsson Octet project with her music teachers. When you’re told she’s doing really well and surpassing peers who have been playing years longer. 

She went back up Wednesday morning. And I’ll admit that I and the rest of us feel a Gracie-shaped hole after having her back for a couple weeks. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a helicopter mom and my experiences with Iain have taught me the vital importance of letting go so that they learn to fly on their own. From the time he was in the 0-3 Early-On early intervention program, the most important thing was always teaching them to be independent so that they could develop into their own person and reach their highest potential. My experience with Iain paved the way for how I approached the girls and their development. Letting her go has been far harder on a subconscious level than I had thought it would be. On the surface I took it in stride but any parent who has experienced their child leave the nest knows what I’m talking about. It happened very quickly and far earlier than we imagined it would. And while a part of her misses us deeply and wanted to stay a bit longer, she still wanted to go back. And while a part of me misses her deeply and enjoyed her stay, I’d never stand in her way. I could never keep her home for selfish reasons when I know that she’s mature enough and strong enough to handle the challenge. Standing in her way would mean I would have failed as a parent in favor of my own comfort in ways too selfish to fathom. 

I probably won’t see her again until March, right before my birthday when she comes home for spring break, inconveniently two weeks before her sorely-missed friends at RHS are off on their spring break. The winter months are hard on us all and we will do our best to get through. I want to once again thank everyone who has worked so hard and so generously to help her be able to take advantage of this truly rare opportunity. It has changed her life (and will continue to for years to come) and ours as well in ways we never dreamed. We still have to find ways to fundraise in this home stretch and I’ve hit some roadblocks but I will have to trust in life working itself out somehow or another. And I’m still determined to fight like hell to keep her there until graduation. Because a dream should be something you fight for tooth and nail and see to the end. I feel that an attempt is always better than wondering what life would have been like had we tried. Trying is never a failure because of the value of the experience. 

May 2018 bring you all peace, joy, and love. And for those of you who have supported me and Grace and the family, I hope the help you’ve provided is repaid exponentially for years to come. Especially to those of you who I now know are going through your own personal struggles yet are such good, kind, amazing humans that you still found it within yourselves to help Grace (and others) while fighting your own personal battles. There is an extra special place for you in heaven and in the world and I have to believe that because you are the type of people who make me feel like there is still hope for this world yet. You know who you are. And if you don’t or are unsure, that’s probably only because you’re that giving and generous. 

Stay tuned for a recurrence of annoying notices about fundraising efforts. Bless those of you who understand why I’m fighting as hard as I can to see this through. Bless those of you who love Gracie as if she’s your own and who have offered unsolicited support in any way. Saying thank you seems so inadequate. 

Posted on October 13, 2017


Posted on October 13, 2017

What a lovely visit we had last weekend. It was Family Weekend and a whirlwind of activity. It's like another world up there yet so many of the familiar activities of the new school year that we've become accustomed to were on the list of things to do up there. Last Friday we got to attend all of her classes in 30 minute sessions. I really like her teachers and her classes seem really interesting and challenging. We had parent/teacher conferences the next day and it was nice getting to know the new adults in her life. She seems to be doing well and likes her classes so that's good. She seems happy, has been making many friends, getting good grades, and adjusting well. 

I really like her cello teacher. He's working with her on setup. That means he's helping her get the best technique established that she can despite things like short arms, short torso, and, well, being lady-shaped. Most of her peers are boys or very thin so they have few obstacles and are able to reach much farther around their instrument. Being able to easily reach all areas of the fingerboard and make long bow strokes makes playing the cello far easier. Short of major surgery the only solution is to find the best way to hold her instrument to make the most of what she can't much change. He assured me he's worked with many brilliant cellists who were short and shaped like her who always worked extra hard but were very successful after finding their best setup. He said she's very musical and tenacious and that helps. I also love that he's a jazz cellist. The world needs more of those! 

The orchestra will be in concert tomorrow night in Corson Auditorium at 7:30 pm. The program includes selections from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Debussy’s “La Mer,” and Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite.” You can catch the concert online here: 

and the event with a link to tickets and more information can be found here:

and the program notes here:

Thank you again to everyone who has supported her in her adventure! Any shares are appreciated. We're still about $3000 short of our goal to finish out the year and then we will be working on next year. Our biggest goal is to see her though to graduation if we can. I've taken on extra hours at work where I can and have started delivering groceries and doing freelance work on the side. Every share helps and we appreciate it. Thanks again!

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