FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. (September 14, 2023) – Welcoming new and returning students, leadership of the newly revised Flagler Youth Orchestra greeted families during the open house on Wednesday, September 13, at the Flagler Auditorium.

Offering an introduction to the leadership team and instructors, parents and students were provided an opportunity to meet, ask questions and learn more about the program during the event.

Within the wheelhouse of Jeff Reaves, Director of Teaching and Learning for Flagler Schools, the FYO faced an uncertain future over the summer, with the school district and educators coming together to ensure the signature program continued.

“This came under my umbrella for instructional purposes, and we’re just excited about tonight. The board, the superintendent, this was a priority to keep this going for our kids. We’ve had over 200 enroll, we had over 120 signup for auditions, and so, just excited to see this keep moving forward for our students. It’s such a great opportunity for them to learn and have such a cultural experience.”

“Our new administrative lead is Dr. Loos from Volusia County. He does similar work down there. Made the connection, he applied for the opportunity, just fabulous. Wonderful background, he leads an orchestra down in the Deltona area as well,” he said.

“Of course, Mr. Vic (Rivera, Artistic Director) is back and other folks came back, Pam (Dr. Pam Mireles) and Lacy (San Antonio, Conductor), Jeremy (Bartlett), but we also added some really great ones like Evan Hernandez, a former FPC Bulldog, and just graduated from Stetson University and came back to us. Gracie Lookado has performed at Carnegie Hall and other places.”

“Our kids are going to get exposed to some amazing talent of key people who are keeping that energy moving forward,” said Reaves.

Students were clearly excited to return to the youth orchestra, with some mimicking the movements of violin players on stage, as they sat beside parents. As a free program, it’s seen as one of the opportunities to level the playing field by providing all students a chance to learn.

The open house coincides with National Arts in Education Week, and Reeves is passionate about providing students the opportunity to learn.

“It is critical. There are all kinds of connection when it comes to the arts. Math, English, Social Studies, it’s across the board. When our students have the opportunity to be engaged in the arts, they excel,” shared Reeves.

“We’ve opened this program up to all of our students, and so last week we did a tour of the campuses for each elementary school and we were able to go to each elementary school and perform, and recruit. Get in the classrooms, get in the schools, get in the cafeterias, perform where the kids could hear them and we’re here tonight because of that. We’re really excited to see that momentum.”

Reaves paid homage to the program’s previous executive director as it enters a new chapter.

“We’re so grateful for all Cheryl Tristam has done for the organization and it was her baby. To see it continuing, I know it’s very heartwarming.”

For more information on the Flagler Youth Orchestra, please visit Flagler Youth Orchestra – Flagler Schools.