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Rochester Schools add orchestra program

Rochester Community Schools will be adding a strings program to its music curriculum for the 2018-19 school year, following approval for the new program on Monday, February 12, by the board of education.

The strings program will include violin, viola, cello and double bass, and will be available to students starting at the sixth-grade level.

"Adding new programs to the curriculum is an indication of the strong financial health of our school district. Our ability to accomplish the goals set by our strategic plan requires fiscal stewardship, which includes maintaining a balanced budget that is sustainable, promotes growth, and maintains high quality student programs," said Rochester Community Schools Superintendent Rober Shaner. "This is an exciting time for our district."

The idea of adding a strings program was introduced by two community members who provided a presentation during a board of education meeting. In the spring of 2016, the district formed a task force to research, explore and discuss the possibility of having the program. An orchestra implementation specialist was also employed to study options. The work was brought to the board of education in the fall of 2017. That study included the recommendation of starting the strings program at the sixth grade level.

"In order to introduce the strings program to our students, we will be brining in a small orchestra ensemble who will be conducting mini performances for students in fourth and fifth grades at each of our schools," said Carrie Lawler, executive director of secondary education for the district. "The course description will be added to the sixth grade offerings for the 2018-19 school year. Students will then have the option to select the strings program as one of their elective courses in addition to choir and band."

Lawler said additional work is still needed to facilitate the strings program, which include staffing requirements and the need for equipment and supplies.

"We envision that equipment will be either purchased or rented, much like our band programs," she said. "Staffing requirements will be addressed once we determine the interest from the student population."

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