Beverly Wright saw exactly what she was looking for in Devon Chiodo, a bright music student heading to State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF). Wright, who created a memorial music scholarship in her husband’s memory, looks for students with a positive attitude, a lifelong commitment to music and, of course, talent.
For the third time in the seven years the scholarship has been awarded, it will go to an SCF student. Chiodo, a percussionist, instrumentalist and singer who plans to devote her career to students with disabilities, won the scholarship based not only on her talent, but also on her positive attitude and her plans to continue in music once she graduates from college. Scholarship winners do not have to teach music or become performers to win, but they do have to have a commitment to stay involved in music.
The Music Program at SCF offers a solid music foundation for a student to successfully transition to a four-year college music program. It is more affordable than other music programs and offers a full array of music credits, including music theory, music history, music therapy, music composition, vocal studies, jazz studies and ensemble.
The Andy Wright Scholarship goes to one student each year who demonstrates outstanding academic achievement and intends to continue using their musical talents during college. A graduate of Juilliard and Columbia University, Andy Wright taught music at Sarasota High School for 35 years. He was inducted into the Florida Music Education Association (FMEA) Hall of Fame and was named the FMEA Teacher of the Year. He also was Sarasota County Schools’ Teacher of the Year twice. He took music students to Europe, including Switzerland and Austria, to perform. He retired from Sarasota High School in 1991.
His father wanted him to be a doctor, but after serving in Europe’s Battle of the Bulge during World War II, the last major Nazi offensive in World War II, he decided to pursue music when he came home from the war. Wright’s skills on the piano and trombone led to him touring the country for more than two years with the Shep Fields Band and landing on the same bill as Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell and the Ink Spots.
He met his wife of 58 years, Beverly, in Virginia Beach, Virginia during his time touring and they made plans to move to Florida where they could put roots down together. Wright started teaching in Fort Walton Beach in 1952 and four years later came to Sarasota.
In addition to his teaching career, which included a stint as an adjunct jazz professor at SCF after he retired from teaching high school, Wright was also a member of the Florida West Coast Symphony for 25 years, a member of the Sarasota Concert Band and was a charter member of the Sarasota Jazz Club. He died in 2011 at the age of 86.
“He came as close to doing what he wanted his entire life as anyone I know. He was a happy camper,” Beverly Wright said. “He woke up looking forward to going to work every day.”
Beverly and her son, Andy Wright III, created the scholarship application with an emphasis on work ethic, as well as musical talent. Other scholarship recipients from SCF are Camden McLean, who won in 2014 and Ricardo Zamarripi, who won in 2015.
“Andy believed that you can have talent, but if you don’t work it, it doesn’t go anywhere,” Beverly Wright said. “We want music to remain important to them for the rest of their lives.”
For more information on SCF’s music programs, visit SCF.edu/music.