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St. George School returns with annual Mostaccioli Dinner, celebrates band’s talents

Seventh-grade student Nick Pelini said outside of his studies, being involved in the band is one of the highlights of his time at St. George School in Tinley Park.

“I like the fact that we have [band lessons] every Thursday, and when we do fundraisers, such as the Mostaccioli Dinner, it usually purchases more instruments for people to play. It can sometimes [fund] field trips for us.”

Pelini, along with other members of St. George’s band, hosted its annual Mostaccioli Dinner on Jan. 29, as a way to kickstart National Catholic Schools Week.

Band director William Gula said it is nice seeing the community’s support at the Mostaccioli Dinner, and “it helps to encourage students to partake in the activity itself.”

Pelini is one of 45 students in the St. George School band. He said he really enjoys playing the French horn and often practices around family at home.

“I sometimes play when they’re sleeping, and they get annoyed by that,” Pelini said, noting his parents, though, are still supportive.

The dinner—which was held between noon and 5 p.m. that Sunday—is part of a long-standing tradition at St. George, and this year marked its 21st year.

Aside from a tasty meal, live music and a raffle rounded out the festivities. The idea behind hosting a mostaccioli dinner came from one of St. George’s families, and the rest was history, Gula said.

“Mostaccioli—it’s easy to cook, easy to make, and everyone loves the mostaccioli noodles with sauce and things like that,” he said. “We just kind of keep it going every year, and we love it. It’s a tradition here at St. George.”

LaTunya Bradley, of Matteson, said she was enjoying her time at the occasion.

“It’s always a really good turnout,” she said. “A lot of prep work, a lot of parents support it. The band booster program gets a great deal of support from the community. So, it’s a really nice event, and everyone seems to look forward to it.”

Bradley said it’s important to show support for the music program and the students involved.

“It allows the schools to have a more diverse background,” she said. “To have the introduction of music at an early age kind of helps on with parts of their academic life. I think it’s really important to support the arts, and it gives the students an opportunity to develop a skill that they could possibly use later on for life.”

The fundraiser typically brings in between $2,000 and $3,000 to help defray costs for solo competition fees, instruments and uniforms.

“We usually serve several hundred people throughout the day, and the nice thing about it is we have almost a captive audience, because it’s held every year on Open House Day,” Gula said. “Parents bring family members [and] friends.”

For the last 21 years, Gula has served as the band director at St. George, and he takes pride in know that school officials, too, have shown support for the band.

“We have a very good backing by the faculty,” Gula said. “The principal is very, very interested in keeping our arts program here in school alive.

“What’s interesting is that being such a small school a lot of the parents that are involved in band are also involved in sports, as well. There’s quite a crossover here. Now, that’s not always true in other schools.”

“What we like to do is we try to bring in the community,” Gula said. “The whole thing is about bringing in the community, bringing awareness to the community about what we do.”

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