A central Indiana high school orchestra is using music to offer comfort. The Avon High School Chamber Players and Life’s Journey, an Avon hospice facility, partnered to create a weekly “Patio Recital Series.” Practicing social distancing, the students played their instruments outside windows and patio doors for patients and the staff caring for them.
The Chamber Players received the 2021 Heart of the Arts Award from the National Federation of State School Associations. The award recognizes individuals and groups exemplifying “the ideals of the positive heart of the arts.” WFYI reporter Terri Dee spoke with Avon Community School Corporation Superintendent Scott Wyndham about the reaction from students:
WFYI Reporter Terri Dee: In what ways do you think the participation of students in the chamber players has helped them in navigating this unpredictable school year that they have had to endure?
Avon Community School Corporation Superintendent Scott Wyndham: Our chamber players started in the spring. Actually this group was established just before the COVID pandemic hit in March of 2020. What our students were looking for was some way to continue to play their instruments and do what they love to do in the middle of a pandemic, when in the spring of 2020, our schools were closed.
So what I think it allowed them to do was to do what they love, which is play their instruments, but then also to get to use their gifts and their talents in a way that brought joy to others. I think that's what really was so powerful about this. Our students, in the midst of a really chaotic time, were able to do something that was a benefit to the community and a benefit to people that were were in challenging situations in a hospice facility.
Dee: Have you had conversations with them? This is obviously more than just book learning, classroom learning, it builds character and other traits. Have you had a chance to speak with them?
Wyndham: Speak with the students?
Wyndham: So I had the privilege of going in the summer and getting to witness this and getting to see some of our students perform at the hospice center. They were so proud of what they were doing, and they got so much joy out of this. It was one of the most powerful things I've ever seen, personally, to see our students doing something that you're exactly right was so far beyond book learning and academic achievement, but they were learning and getting to experience something that I think they'll remember the rest of their lives.
The students loved it. The staff at the hospice facility were often in tears, they were so moved by what they were seeing. Those of us that were around were just so touched to see the impact that this was having on our kids and on the folks that were at the hospice facility.
Dee: I would like to congratulate your school and the students on winning the 2021 Heart of the Arts Award from the National Federation of State High School associations and also thank you for your time today.
Wyndham: Absolutely. Thank you for for featuring us and helping us bring some light to the great things our students are doing.