New school club "about to rock" LR


Last updated 8/11/2021 at 7:52am

With no music teacher at the school, Lake Roosevelt Junior/Senior High students will have a different kind of opportunity to play music. 

Music teacher Karen Pace retired at the end of the last school year from a position not easily filled, but a club called Raider Rock Band was approved by the Grand Coulee Dam School District Board of Directors during their Aug. 9 meeting.

History teacher Justin Thompson will sponsor the club. He says there are eight students he thinks will definitely join it, and at least 25 who expressed interest. 

The club “will be an exciting new club at LRHS that will fill a much-needed niche for students who are interested,” a letter from Thompson to the board reads. “So far, many of the students who have expressed an interest are ones who struggle with motivation and a sense of place in their schooling, not really being into sports or the offerings of other clubs. However, they are united by their love of music. This club will provide a space for them to share those interests with each other in a safe and structured way.” 

“Once a week, club members will meet in the music room to practice forming their own rock bands,” Thompson writes about the club. “Creating a band is certainly about learning one’s instrument and learning to perform, but it is so much more than that. It involves teambuilding, organization, creativity, and above all building confidence as kids come to see themselves as an integral part to something larger than themselves. Some musical instruction may take place, but it will be secondary to the time spent visualizing, having fun, and making noise. That alone could be the catharsis some of these kids need.” 

Thompson himself sang and played bass in a couple of punk bands — “We Won’t Leave” and “Super Rat,” in the Bellingham, Washington area, where he attended college at Western Washington University. 

He began teaching at LR in the 2019-20 school year. 

Thompson told The Star Monday that in his first year of teaching he noticed kids wearing Nirvana T-shirts or ‘80s metal band T-shirts and talked with some of them about music. Some played guitar and were interested in playing in bands but didn’t know other musicians.

Seeing that need led to proposing the club. 

He thinks it will help the students learn team building, build confidence, and get over self-consciousness that teenagers often have. 

The club can incorporate other aspects of having a band as well.

Thompson said he could imagine students eventually managing money the club might bring in through selling concessions or otherwise, photographing the band, designing a band logo, and more. 

A single band could form, or multiple bands, he said, depending on how things go and what the students’ interests are.

They may even get to the point of performing for the public.

He imagines they will be watching concert films, singing some karaoke, and generally talking about music, in addition to playing instruments. Thompson emphasized wanting the kids to be in charge of the club. 

Another possibility is for local musicians or ones he knows in other areas to visit the club and talk about music or show them a thing or two on instruments.

Area musicians interested in talking to Thompson about the club can email him at

The club will also be interested in any rock band musical donations people might like to make, such as guitars, guitar strings, drums, drumsticks, and other related musical items, but he doesn’t want “tons of junk like a banjo that’s snapped in half.”

Those with musical items to donate can drop them off at LR’s front office.

“I hope you can see the passion and potential in this program,” he wrote to the board. “It could grow to be something quite special, for the school and for those about to rock!” 


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