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High School Orchestra, Band Welcome Middle Schoolers

High school and middle school orchestra students rehearse together in the HHHS orchestra room.

Niamh Gormley entered Wednesday’s visit to Hendrick Hudson High School with some reservations, just as any eighth-grade student might. She wasn’t only nervous about visiting the music suite at her next school; she envisioned a quiet environment where younger and older students required time to grow comfortable with one another.

Instead, Niamh said she quickly found herself at home. Members of the high school orchestra and director Lauren Morabito quickly put their visitors at ease through a shared love for music.

“I am very happy with how it went,” Niamh said. “Everyone was very welcoming, and now I feel like I’ll be more prepared for high school.”

High school and middle school band members rehearse together on March 13, 2024.

Both the orchestra and band at the high school welcomed eighth-grade musicians from Blue Mountain Middle School for side-by-side rehearsals, which also provided the younger students a chance for informal question-and-answer sessions.

One high school band member used the opportunity to rave about his experience.

“It’s actually been really fun,” he told the eighth-grade band members visiting. “I’ve made a lot of really great friends here.”

Morabito stressed the importance of making incoming students feel welcomed. 

“This is where many people come and hang out, even when they don’t have class,” Morabito said. “For a lot of our students, this is a safe space in the high school.”

Musicians in Morabito’s orchestra and Ben Arcish’s band spent a few days learning music played by their middle school counterparts. That allowed the students to rehearse together, often seated side by side. BMMS’ orchestra director Samantha Hecht and band director Katherine Filatov joined their students and observed the visit.

The high school teachers and the older students outlined special opportunities that await them in high school. They highlighted concerts and extra gigs — including performing at graduation — but also focused on fun moments, like performing at the Music in the Parks festival at Six Flags Great Adventure every spring.

“This visit gives them a chance to preview the high school music program with the new teachers and students they will see next year,” Hecht said. “This helps us build a bridge between the two schools.”