Joe Nuccio, Newburyport High School jazz band director, stands with Whitney Bourgeois and Michael Crounse, former classmates of Jim Esoldo, a member of the NHS class of '93 who passed away in 2005. The pair presents a drum set donated to the school in Esoldo's name. The drum set, which is engraved with Esoldo's name, is a gift from the Recurring Dream Foundation, which was established by Esoldo's friends to spread his love of music to the community.

NEWBURYPORT -- For some, the connections made in high school are soon broken, as work and schooling scatter friends and classmates all over the world. For others, those bonds endure until death.

For six members in Newburyport High School's class of 1993, their powerful friendship lasted, persisting even as one moved to Colorado and another joined the military, serving multiple tours in Iraq.

But when one of the group, James Esoldo -- a chef, biochemist, and passionate musician -- died in Newbury at the age of 30 a year and a half ago, his friends realized that even the strongest connections eventually end. They soon decided that they wanted to honor Esoldo's memory, and founded the Recurring Dream Foundation to support music education in his name.

Last summer, the five remaining high school friends -- Mike Crounse, Ryan King, Adam Ledwell, Erik Vose and Whitney Bourgeois -- teamed up with Esoldo's family and other friends to stage the Waterfront Dream Festival, a daylong, all-ages concert in downtown Newburyport. Included on the bill were two bands Esoldo had played with before his death, the Flapjack Vikings and Slow Match.

With the money raised by the festival, the Recurring Dream Foundation bought a much-needed bass guitar amplifier for the high school band last year.

"Several of us were in the band in high school," Crounse said. "James wasn't, but he was a devoted guitar player and later on he taught himself how to play the drums."

Tuesday evening, Esoldo's friends and family came together again in the high school's band rehearsal room to present another gift -- a crimson drum set adorned with a plaque honoring their missing partner.

The band and its advisor, Joe Nuccio, were plainly grateful for the gift, but Crounse and Bourgeois promised that the foundation's work is only beginning.

"We're working right now to get our nonprofit status in place, and we're planning more events," Crounse said. "Eventually, we would like to be able to offer scholarships for students who want to pursue a career in music."

For more information, visit the Recurring Dream Foundation on-line at

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