A Holiday String Extravaganza

Heights High Director leads his orchestra in 'Waltz of the Flowers'
By: Samantha Seidel
Both novice and seasoned performers filled the room with festive melodies Monday to perform both traditional and unique songs of the season.
Putting a jolly twist on its usual springtime string fling, the school district Fine Arts Department unwrapped “A Holiday String Extravaganza” that filled the Bell County Expo Center with joyous tunes.
Orchestras from Eastern Hills, Liberty Hill and Union Grove middle schools joined the Harker Heights High School orchestra and the Harker Heights High School Band string ensemble.
Deputy Superintendent Eric Penrod kicked off the event, welcoming friends and family excitedly sitting in the stands.
“It’s so wonderful to have the opportunity here at Killeen ISD to develop the while child,” he said. “This is a wonderful fine arts program that your students are a part of, and we hope that you enjoy the evening.”
A middle school violinist plays 'Jazzy Old st. Nick        The advanced middle school orchestras play 'Let It Snow'
About 500 sixth- through 12th-graders participate in orchestra. Many of those students gathered for about five hours prior to the concert to work together with six directors from all four schools.
The event began and ended with all participants playing together, the “Star-Spangled Banner” to start and “A Christmas Festival” to conclude.
“Today, they all came together at this venue for the first time,” Herrera said. “Some of these performers have only been playing since the beginning of school.
“I am also excited to announce that once Nolan Middle School has been rebuilt, we will be adding another strings program that will be offered to hundreds of students.”
The concert program is scheduled The combined high school trumpets play together.to air during the holidays on KISD-TV channel 17.
As the orchestras transitioned during the event, master of ceremonies Danny Ingram celebrated and recognized various group and individual accomplishments of the current school year.
Reflecting on last year’s largest accomplishments, KISD’s first-ever All-State Orchestra members, Ingram recognized Harker Heights High School Sophomore Grace Koh for once again earning the all-state distinction as a violinist.With proud family members looking on, Ingram directed high school orchestra honorees to stand. A total of 21 earned a spot in the All-Region orchestraThe cellos play 'Brazilian Sleigh Bells', 18 auditioned for the all-state orchestra and one received that highest of designations.
The concert started with beginners in their first year of orchestra. Next, intermediate players performed. They are second- and third-year players. Those who auditioned for the middle school All-Region orchestra received recognition.
The high school orchestra played next, following the conclusion with the combined ensemble. High school orchestra is divided into four groups that perform throughout the school year in more than 20 events.

“We know from data that there are somany positive gains through fine arts,” stated Herrera. “I hope that these students keep growing from this program and that our teachers continue to inspire and encourage their students.”
The middle school orchestra plays 'Skater's Waltz.'