Burroughs duo pull heartstrings for strings

Burroughs Community School Principal Tim Cadotte had an uneasy feeling while

listening to the school’s strings orchestra perform a half-hour concert April 24.

His school committee had just formulated its 2004-2005 budget, and the $14,000 required to fund the 30-member string orchestra led by Dr. Michael Mazyck was not available.

While Burroughs, 1501 W. 50th St., has a relatively affluent parental base and an enterprising student body that raises about $60,000 annually, it also receives fewer dollars per student — $4,881 this year — than any in Southwest. By comparison, Lake Harriet receives $6,177 per pupil, Barton gets $5,010 and Whittier, with its high percent of kids in poverty, gets $8,135.

Cadotte wondered how he was going to break the news to the 120 parents in the crowd that this might be the school’s last concert. Instead, he waited until the end of the show and made an impassioned appeal for donations to keep the string instruments from folding. Cadotte also wrote a personal letter to Burroughs families asking for their support.

When Beth Sutherland received that letter she told Ben Weil, a 2nd-grader and her kindergartener son Harris Sutherland about it. The enterprising duo answered the call.

The Burroughs boys opened up a lemonade stand at 51st and Aldrich after school on April 26 with a chalkboard sign that read "For Burroughs School."

The students, neither of whom is in the orchestra, charged 25 cents for a plastic cup of Kool-Aid.

The next day, Beth Sutherland said, the boys presented Cadotte with a Zip-loc bag filled with quarters and dollar bills — $10 overall –to maintain the orchestra.

"It just brings tears to your eyes," Cadotte said.