A Graduate's Gratefulness

by Laura Bunge, Kennedy High School graduate, and Rock Band member - Broken Record

I want to say thank you to the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy. They have been here, in Cedar Rapids, since 2007. I’m thankful I have been there for nearly eight years now.

I first found the Academy doing a guitar class at Harding Middle School under David Griffin, who at that time I called Papa Griffin because of being in show choir. I did the class for three years, until he came to me with an opportunity I will never regret taking up. He was creating rock bands with the Academy. I, of course, said yes because it sounded fun even though my mom was unsure because I had been jumping around doing different things trying to find something I liked since I was little.

At the first practice at the Academy, I literally went home crying because I couldn’t play guitar, I had to play bass. My mom told me to give it a try and continue at it because maybe eventually a spot in the guitar class would open. That chance never came because I fell in love with the bass. As the months flew by, I had my first “gig” at Harding performing Hey There Delilah. I will never forget that performance because it felt right.

Something clicked, and I never gave up. I went to the Academy during my 8th grade year and that’s when Heather Wagner, the woman I call my second mother, came into my life. She became the person I could always go to with my problems. She was there on my good days and my bad days, always supporting me. Through the months leading into high school, she and Mr. Griffin stood by my side. At EIAA, I found my family.

Yes, people did come and go, but eventually I found my family. The band I was in during middle school came to be known in the community as Broken Record, which is the name I came up with. Up until my last day there, which is coming sooner than I really like, it will always be my baby. I am the only original member left that hasn’t given up on it. We went through rough times together and we went through the good times as well. As the number of bands grew from 3 to 4 to 5, to what is now 7 and possible growing into more, Heather needed help. Courtny came along and she became another person we all loved to death. Every single person at EIAA you couldn’t hate. They were your family and you’d love them to the ends of the earth. I do not regret my decision to join the bands because EIAA is my true home, not my high school.

I did have fun times at my high school, but it wasn’t my true home because people didn’t see me, but EIAA did. I did multiple bands in my time there, produced a CD working with these musicians, and took multiple art classes. I am proud to say I was a part of the Youth Leadership Program there and I even helped build a yearly festival that has become a hit over the years. I had the chance to perform with some famous local heroes, as I like to call them. I met the people who made me who I am today. I am able to leave the Academy knowing I can return to visit. I am leaving knowing what I want to do, what my dreams are, and know that I won’t let anything get in my way. If it weren’t for the day that Mr. Griffin approached me, I wouldn’t be who I am and wouldn’t have the opportunity I have to go to the university of my dreams, do what I love, and become what I want to be.

Thank you to everyone at the EIAA for everything they have done for me and what they will do for the kids in the future!

- Laura Bunge

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