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Mill Valley News

The student news site of Mill Valley High School

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Mill Valley News

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Senior Sarah Anderson and freshman Graham Anderson hope district scales up to add an orchestra in future years

Sarah and Graham pursue their musical talents through playing the violin and have pushed for the school to add an orchestra so they can continue playing.
Expressing+her+love+for+music%2C+senior+Sarah+Anderson+plays+a+song+that%0Ashe+has+memorized+Friday%2C+March+1.
By Eva Hernandez
Expressing her love for music, senior Sarah Anderson plays a song that she has memorized Friday, March 1.

For some students, school is the limit of their opportunities for activities, but for senior Sarah Anderson and freshman Graham Anderson, exploring their interests does not stop at the end of the school day. Even though our school doesn’t have an orchestra, Sarah continues developing her musical talents through playing the violin outside of school.

Sarah started playing violin in kindergarten. She has used playing the instrument as a learning opportunity and stated it helps her push her limits when she learns new songs.

Utilizing his musical intelligence, freshman Graham Anderson glides the bow across the violin Friday, March 1.
(By Eva Hernandez)

“It’s really fun [and] it’s really hard,” Sarah said. “It gives me something to challenge myself, and I really like playing in orchestras and the community around stringed instruments.”

Sarah spends her hours after school practicing violin independently for the orchestra she’s a part of. Sarah believes that playing in an orchestra and working with others is fulfilling and a valuable experience for those involved.

“Everyone will work on it on their own, so when you come together, it’s just a bunch of people who have all worked really hard on one thing,” Sarah said. “Then you all put it together and are able to perform it.”

Graham agreed, saying that getting to meet other high-level musicians is one of the best parts of being in an orchestra.

“I really liked meeting other talented musicians in the area and being able to come together just for a day and be able to accomplish something,” Graham said.

This year, Sarah made the All-State String Orchestra. This feat is particularly impressive considering she made the orchestra on her own and not through a school orchestra like many other students across the state. Sarah spearheaded a presentation to the district Board of Education in July 2022.

By Avery Clement

Executive Director of Secondary Education Brian Schwanz stated via email that the school does not have an orchestra for a multitude of reasons.

“Before adding a program of this size and scope, several factors must be taken into consideration, such as staffing, instrument storage, and available spaces,” Schwanz said. “We are also considering the costs of ramping up a new program, ongoing expenses, and potential student participation rates.”

On Dec. 5, 2022, the school board met to debate the implementation of an orchestra, but it wasn’t approved after they considered the cost burden, which would be around $325,000. However, almost 50% of parents voted on a survey sent out in March of 2023 that it would be beneficial for the district to have an orchestra.

Sarah is not the first to have expressed interest in a school orchestra. Band director Debra Steiner said that there has been interest in having an orchestra for many years now.

“Sarah Anderson did a nice job of proposing it and getting it together,” Steiner said. “When I first started here, I had about four or five kids that would come in after school and we would just play through some stuff, so there’s been some interest all along.”

Even with clear interest, a lack of resources and facilities play into the factors preventing the district from adding an orchestra.

By Avery Clement

“I think our biggest hurdle right now is facilities, and not necessarily the high school level, but at the middle school too,” Steiner said. “There’s just no room. We can share classrooms, but it’s the storage and the schedule for them because those teachers only teach in that room.”

The school board has considered adding an orchestra for some time now nothing has come of it. Sarah expressed that not having an orchestra at the school has been hard not being able to build up a community. Even though Sarah is graduating,

Graham said he would join a school orchestra if one were added at some point in the future.

“I think it would be pretty nice [to have an orchestra],” Graham said. “It would be a good opportunity and it would help bring [more] music to the school.”

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About the Contributors
Maddie Martin, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is sophomore Maddie Martin’s first year on the JagWire staff. She is looking forward to writing and taking pictures for the JagWire. She is on the golf team and is a part of Relay for Life. Outside of school she volunteers with National Charity League. She spends her free time hanging out with her friends and family, listening to music and watching sports.  
Madelyn Mulryan, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is sophomore Madelyn Mulryan’s first year on the JagWire staff. She is exploring all roles for newspaper but especially writing. She enjoys reading, listening to music, spending quality time with friends and binge-watching shows. Maddie is involved in Youth for Refugees, Women’s Empowerment, Model UN and Debate. She is excited to make this year of newspaper great!
Avery Clement, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is Sophomore Avery Clement’s first year on the JagWire staff. She is looking forward to learning about designing, writing and photography for the JagWire. Outside of journalism, Avery enjoys watching movies, crocheting and thrifting and reselling clothes. She also works as a gymnastics coach at Pinnacle gymnastics. She is a member of Youth for Refugees and Women's Empowerment Club and is also in Model UN. She is looking forward to a fun year on the JagWire staff.
Eva Hernandez, JagWire reporter/photographer
This is sophomore Eva Hernandez’s first year on the JagWire staff. This year she will be learning the roles of a writer and photographer. Eva enjoys longboarding around her neighborhood and likes to play sports like flag football, soccer and basketball and she loves to bake for her friends. Eva also enjoys watching scary movies and shopping for shoes. Eva is involved in Relay for Life and would like to join more things as the school year goes on.

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