CHICAGO — It's never too early to blast Beatles tunes.
Eight students and a teacher at Onahan Elementary School certainly would agree after starting the Raven Street rock band, which practices at the school three days a week from 7-7:45 a.m. Of the 11 songs played by the band, named after the street at which the school is located, two are the Beatles' "Twist and Shout" and "Get Back."
"Lot of enthusiasm surrounding this band lately," said the teacher, Tony Esposito, who helped the eight fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders form the band. "And there are no shortage of talented kids at this grade school."
Esposito, 32, is a graduate of Onahan, Luther North High School and Northeastern Illinois University, earning a bachelor's degree in music. The longtime music teacher also has been a paraprofessional at Onahan for five-plus years, working one on one with a disabled fifth-grader.
For years, Esposito has taught some of the Onahan students music at their homes, but the band began to take shape recently. At first, it was for fifth-graders in the same class who played inside during recess on rainy days. But Esposito expanded the band to sixth- and seventh-graders, and it now has eight members: Gavin Riley, bass; Ryan Riley, drums; Ben Gottschall, guitar; Tyler Vaughan, guitar; Ryan Vaughan, drums; Max Daichendt, keyboard; Ariana Telles, vocals; and Rowan Cloum, vocals.
"We are so thankful and fortunate to have a talented and dedicated teacher like Mr. Esposito volunteer his time to create a rock band with our kids," said Ben Gottschall's mom, Kim. "Music has been an important part of our lives outside of school for many years and to have a teacher who recognizes the value of music education and wants to bring it into the school is very special."
The band will be playing at a school assembly and picnic, but it also will perform at a private party for a student's birthday.
Esposito wants to create buttons and T-shirts for the group and is hoping to make a CD, too.
"With today's technology, that's definitely doable," he said.
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