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Banding Together: Director Sees Life In Full Color

Levy+with+Mr.Pierce%2C+after+giving+him+the+glasses
Levy with Mr.Pierce, after giving him the glasses

Levy with Mr.Pierce, after giving him the glasses

Levy with Mr.Pierce, after giving him the glasses

Gina Quatrino, Staff Writer

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Red. Pink. Green. Brown. These were the colors that band director Preston Pierce could never fully differentiate on his own. On Friday, April 21, the band students eagerly waited outside in the band field, with an array of brightly colored balloons floating high above their heads. The colors danced in the wind in all hues of the rainbow. Senior Nicole Levy stood apart from the crowd, carrying a polkadot box in her hands. Inside the box were color blind correcting glasses that would allow Pierce to see life in full color for the first time.

“A lot of the time when I tell people I’m color blind they think I only see black and white,” Pierce said. “That’s not the case. I see color, and to me it seems normal until someone will point it out. Reds, browns and greens all sometimes blend together and I have a hard time distinguishing them.”

Pierce was categorized with mild Deuteranopia, which affects the way he perceives certain colors like red and green. When his band students first heard this, they did not believe him. However, after seeing his results on a color blind test, they knew it was real. That is when Levy had the idea to start a GoFundMe to raise money for Mr. Pierce to get the color correcting glasses.

“About a week into the GoFundMe, we had all the money raised,” Levy said. “The people who donated didn’t give pennies; they gave $25 to $50. We even had strangers donate. By the end we raised $475, which was over the goal.”

The glasses themselves cost $420, but with the added fees from shipping and handling, the band ended up with just the right amount. In order to make sure the GoFundMe was kept a secret, the entire band and the other music teachers had to be in on it.

“We spread the word through group chats and social media,” senior Lauren Finan said. “The other band directors also helped keep the information secret. It was mostly just working with other students though.”

Once the glasses arrived, Levy had to assign jobs to each of her classmates in order to have this surprise executed perfectly.

“My job during the whole thing was to distract him while Nicole was getting everything ready,” Finan said. “I pretended to get a call from Nicole saying he needed to go out to the band field. At that point he knew something was up, but nonetheless he was surprised.”
Senior Grant Fischer’s is known in band for his videography skills. His job was to record the event.

“I do a lot of video production and editing,” Fischer said. “Nicole came to me and asked if I wanted to use my equipment to film Mr. Pierce’s reaction. I’ve seen a lot of videos on YouTube of people reacting to wearing the glasses and I wanted to capture his.”

Levy had the rest of the students wear vibrant clothing and carry multi-colored balloons to make Pierce’s experience worthwhile.

“At first I was so confused, but when Nicole started talking I figured it out,” Pierce said. “It is definitely a moment I’m going to remember forever.”

After she presented Pierce with the glasses, he shed tears of joy. The timing of the event was deliberate. It was right before the band would take their group trip to Walt Disney World, so Pierce would be able to see the sights like never before.

“I’m planning on bringing the glasses to Disney,” Pierce said. “I’ve been to Disney in previous years with my family, but I’m excited to see it in full color.”

According to the students, they wanted to give their teacher these glasses because of the impact he has made on their lives.

“Mr. Pierce is by far my favorite teacher I’ve ever had,” Finan said. “We call him ‘Papa Pierce’ in band because he’s just super sweet and great at connecting with the students. He’s honestly a huge influence for me. He goes beyond just being a band director.”

Levy mentioned more about how Pierce’s storytelling inspired her to go through with the entire fundraiser.

“Mr. Pierce loves to tell stories,” Levy said. “During my freshman year, he was telling the band a story where he said, ‘Musicians are kind of like artists. Our art is our music. You have to add the colors to it.’ I wanted to present him with the fully colored canvas.”

Pierce has only been working at Plano West for a short time, but according to the students, they have really connected with him beyond the way they usually do with their teachers. When Pierce was told this, he expressed his gratitude immensely.

“It makes me feel very special,” Pierce said. “I live and I work in such a special place with special people. It’s not common or normal to have such thoughtful people around you all the time. I’m very lucky to have the job that I have and work with the students I get to work with every day.”

Since receiving the glasses, Pierce has spent a lot of time trying them on and seeing the world in a new light.

“I want to wear the glasses all the time,” Pierce said. “It’s like getting a new set of eyes. I just want to look at everything.”

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Banding Together: Director Sees Life In Full Color