Ocoee Middle School in Bradley County has adopted a program called United Sound, which encourages longtime band members to mentor students with special needs. For the first time, all students have the opportunity to participate in a program that brings everyone together through music.

Band director Kelley Burroughs said, "It is amazing to watch these students progress as musicians, as well as the friendships that form.  We have nine new musicians, and each one has 3-4 mentors.  The mentors adapt the music to the level of the new musician so they can be successful.  It is beautiful to watch."

Eighth grader Haley Cabrera has latched on to a new friend, Monika Andrews. They spend time together in and out of band class, and it has changed both their lives. "I love teaching flute, and she loves learning.  We have a really great bond."

Burroughs and CDC teacher Jacob Mason provide guidance and encouragement, but it's the students who make the program work. Parents and grandparents watch with pride as children from throughout the school work together, presenting a united front, and a united sound.

Grandparent Judy Weir said, "This really levels the playing field, and gives all our students a true sense of pride."