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First graders in pilot youth orchestral program make their debut

El Sistema Santa Cruz began changing young lives last Spring with a 6-week pilot serving 50 Kindergarteners. This Santa Cruz Education Foundation program was made possible through a collaboration between the Yahoo Employee Foundation and a Gault Elementary School parent.

Our pioneering young musicians returned this Fall as seasoned first graders, ready to build on their skills and to show their parents and classroom teachers all that they have learned in their after school hours of exploration and practice. On the evening of December 13, these proud young performers played, sang and danced before a full house of admirers.

El Sistema Santa Cruz sing along led by teachers Zach Ragent and Kris Kennedy

El Sistema Santa Cruz sing along led by teachers Zach Ragent and Kris Kennedy

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“I felt quite emotional last night when I got home after the most wonderful evening at Gault School. It was magical to interact with our community in such a special way and the El Sistema Concert was just absolutely precious and wonderful. I was so impressed, moved and so proud of the children, teachers and those involved in bringing this program to our school. I keep replaying the concert in my head.” – Susana Brown, Gault Kindergarten teacher

“It was amazing! The students did an amazing job and they are really demonstrating solid movement in music education. The parents were THRILLED as well as the teachers!” – Molly Parks, Gault Principal

El Sistema builds community and skills through movement as well as music instruction.

El Sistema builds community and skills through movement as well as music instruction.

Orff instrumentalists accompany vocalists

Orff instrumentalists accompany vocalists

El Sistema Santa Cruz is led by Santa Cruz Education Foundation board member Isabelle Tuncer with an amazing team of dedicated and talented teachers, including Zachary Ragent, Kris Kennedy, Justine Hamlin, Laurie Burnett and Victoria Norena.

The pilot continues this year, with a new cohort of Kindergarteners joining in January. Next fall, the program will expand to serve students in Kindergarten through second grade.

If you would like to be involved in supporting this program, please contact us.