AVON, Ind., March 18, 2021 – The Avon High School (AHS) Chamber Players are the section 4 recipients of the 2021 Heart of the Arts Award from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). This prestigious award recognizes individuals and ensembles exemplifying “the ideals of the positive heart of the arts and represent the core mission of education-based activities” according to NFHS.
The Chamber Players—an extension of the AHS Orchestra—formed not long before COVID-19 forced Avon Schools to transition to e-learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. Through an unconventional partnership with Life’s Journey, an Avon hospice, the Chamber Players began a “Patio Recital Series” in the courtyard on Fridays.
“I had the opportunity to experience a Friday evening concert,” says Superintendent Dr. Scott Wyndham, “and I was unprepared for both the beauty of the music and for the deep connection between the players and the hospice patients. It was extraordinary. I’m glad I was there to witness it.”
While artists remained socially distant from residents, they did make an extra effort to include patients who were unable to leave their rooms. They walked around the facility to play outside windows and patio doors, bringing a few minutes of peace and comfort to patients who were in the final days of their lives.
“I can’t think of a State Championship or performance honor that would mean as much as seeing our students recognized for doing some good in our community through music,” says AHS Orchestra Director and founder Dean Westman. While he was involved in the patio recital series, he credits the students with leading the initiative. “I’ve never been so proud to be the Founder and Director of the Avon Orchestra.”
The mission of the Orchestra complements AHS’s overarching aims: Inspired Students. Engaged Learners. Empowered Citizens. Principal Matt Shockley says, “Our students are amazing! The initiative and heart of our orchestra students are shining examples of living our school mission.” Noting the Orchestra’s multiple State Championships, Mr. Shockley continues by stating that the true purpose of the program “is still grounded in respect for others, humility, exceeding expectations, and being good role models.”
The Avon Community Schools Orchestra Program was founded in 2007. The program started with 35 beginning orchestra students and now involves over 600 orchestra students in grades six through 12 with five full-time orchestra directors. The program aims to provide positively life-changing experiences for its members and aims to use music as a vehicle to empower students. Students experience sequential string instruction in grades six through 12, with the high school program offering audition-based ensembles. The Avon Community Schools Orchestra Program has frequently been recognized as one of the nation’s top orchestra programs.