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Hundreds take the stage for Elementary Festival Concert

About 650 Bakersfield City School District students took the stage Monday night for a “culminating event” of the school year for the young musicians.

The honor orchestra and the string ensemble joined the festival chorus on stage for the 46th annual Elementary Festival Concert, representing the results of hours of rehearsing, as well as practice at home.

The hourlong performance, capped off by a rousing rendition of “America the Beautiful” as the program’s patriotic finale, was a chance for students to show off what they have learned in front of the community.

Students who took part in Monday’s show either auditioned for the honor orchestra or were recommended for one of the two ensembles by a teacher, according to Mike Stone, visual and performing arts coordinator for BCSD, who also served as the emcee of Monday’s concert.

Stone praised the students for the work they put in on Saturdays and during class to prepare for the concert, as well as the collaborative team of music teachers who helped organize the show.

“What you will hear tonight are some really wonderful young people who are dedicated, they’re doing well in school and we believe it's because of music in the schools,” Stone said in an interview before the show. “It's a big motivator to get kids to do well in all of their studies. We know kids who come to school, they do better academically. In Bakersfield City School (District), we have data that shows that grades are higher for music students than those in the non-music cohort.”

BCSD has won a number of awards for its music programs, including 10 consecutive years of recognition as one of the Best Communities for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants and a 2022 National School Boards Association Silver Magna Award for its work in providing equitable access to arts education for all students, according to a BCSD news release.