OIHS Band and Strings students graduate on a high note

Submitted by the Music Advocacy Group.

Set to graduate on June 15, the Orcas Island School District class of 2024 is notable for having begun their freshman year in online classrooms. Their mettle has been tested and honed as the district navigated COVID-19 challenges of first transitioning students to virtual learning and then back to the new normal within the timeframe of their high school years.

Five remarkable graduates from this year’s class committed themselves to the high school music program’s additional practice and performance standards: Forest Friedli, Moose Kinsey, Will Stephens, Ethan Moss and Theo Vaccarella.

While each Orcas public school graduate has benefitted from music education in elementary and middle school, these five graduates prioritized music education as part of their academic schedules through grade 12. They adapted to online music classes during COVID and the extra demands of daily zero-hour (7:15 a.m.) music classes during three of their four high school years.

These students have not just practiced in classrooms; they have showcased their talent in countless concerts and represented Orcas Island at numerous competitions, honor events, and fundraisers. Many of these events required off-island travel and the sacrifice of weekends and free time. Their hard work has earned the Band and Strings programs multiple awards and recognition, including a ‘Superior’ rating at the San Juan Music Educators Association Regional Orchestra Contest and an ‘Excellent’ rating from adjudicators at the SJMEA Senior Large Group Festival this March.

As these students embark on their next adventures, their experiences will continue to be enriched by music program friendships, a lifelong love for music, and the skills and cognitive benefits of foundational music education. Friedli, Kinsey, Moss, Stephens and Vaccarella are truly ambassadors for why school music matters. Congratulations to the class of 2024.

MAG champions and helps fund music education in our public schools with the support of music lovers on Orcas. Learn more at OIMAG.ORG.

OIHS Band graduates (left to right): Theo Vaccarella, Will Stephens, and Forest Friedli

OIHS Band graduates (left to right): Theo Vaccarella, Will Stephens, and Forest Friedli