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Lehigh Regional presents check to local high school band programs

October 23, 2019
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Lehigh Regional Medical Center's Chief Executive Officer Gary Bell last Wednesday presented two local band/music programs with a $1,000 check to be used towards their program's needs.

Bell's first stop was to Lehigh Senior High School to present a check to Band Director Jay Parales.

According to Bell, this is just one of the many ways the hospital tries to give back to the community.

Article Photos

Lehigh Senior High School Band Director Jay Parales and Lehigh Regional Medial Center Chief Executive Officer Gary Bell.


"We are a community hospital and believe in the value of the arts. We want to be a contributor to the community, not just a taker," Bell said.

Bell has close ties to the Lee County educational system, and Lehigh Acres Senior High in particular. His daughter is a teacher who taught at the high school in the late 1990s.

According to Parales, the money is definitely going to be put to good use.

"My kids work so hard throughout the year, selling candy and cookies, just trying to raise money for their program. This will help us obtain our goals and be a more successful band program. We need newer equipment. Some of our instruments are well over 10 years old," Parales said.

Later in the day, Bell presented a check to East Lee County High School's Band Director Luis Fisher.

For Fisher and school Assistant Principal Karen Blaze, this contribution puts them one step closer to their dream of having a competitive band team.

Fisher is fairly new to the high school and was brought onboard to lead the band department back in July 2019.

"He brings a background in both concert and marching ensembles and strong leadership skills. We were very selective when considering who would fill this role. He has taken a school's band program from literally three band members to a team of more than 30. He brings the entire package and accepted the challenge to come here to lead our program," Blaze said.

According to Fisher, the money will go towards newer instruments and growing the program.

"Any band needs to either replace or repair older instruments. They use the instruments and consumable items such as reeds so much throughout the marching band season. We are in the process of designing new uniforms for the band as well, Fisher said. "Our goal is to venture towards the competitive side of band, so we are working hard this year both from a musical and visual standpoint."

Fisher is eager to expand the program, and make improvements to the school's color guard team.

"I jumped at this opportunity and the kids are all onboard. We are making this a priority and want to bring a championship band to East Lee," Fisher said. "What's making it easier is having an assistant principal that is supportive and comes from a musical background. Assistant Principal Blaze was a former band director in this county."

For more information on East Lee County High School visit, or for Lehigh Senior High School visit



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