Winton Woods Principal is Newest Member of Fifth Grade Orchestra
There’s a new member in the viola section of the fifth grade orchestra at Winton Woods Intermediate School. Like the other musicians, this is his first time playing a musical instrument. Like the other musicians, he still gets easily confused reading the sheet music and plucking the right notes on his instrument. Unlike the other musicians, Jeremy Day isn’t a fifth grader. He’s the school’s principal.
“A 5th grade class is exactly where I need to be because I literally know nothing about music,” said Day, “so it’s been a nice fit.”
Day was always more of an athlete, playing football and running track in middle and high school, though he admits that he did sing in the school choir. “It irritates me that I hadn’t played an instrument growing up,” he said. “I respect people who can play.”
Winton Woods Orchestra Director Felipe Morales-Torres was quickly on board when Day approached him with the idea. "This district enthusiastically supports the arts,” said Morales-Torres. “Mr. Day's participation is a perfect example of that. He's a principal who supports music students so much that he signed up to learn beside them."
So now, instead of observing the class, as he usually would, Day is part of the class. Alexie Mavridoglou, who sits next to Day in the classroom, said having the principal right there made her nervous at first. She said she got over it pretty quickly once she realized, “I’m better at viola than he is.”
Day said he’s getting a general sense of the instrument and how to play it. His goal is to learn as much as possible this year and continue with the viola next year when the same students are in sixth grade orchestra. “It’s important for kids to see you can pick up something new no matter your age,” said Day. “They can see that adults don’t know it all. And in this case, the kids are teaching me something.”
Both Day and Morales Torres say the district is doing a good job teaching fine arts. As evident they point Winton Woods City Schools’ “2015 Best Communities for Music Education” designation from the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation.
“We have more students than ever in orchestra,” said Morales-Torres, adding that participation at the intermediate school has grown from 100 students last year to more than 150. “One of the superintendent’s goals is to increase participation in all the arts. We’re up from 40% of all intermediate school students involved in music last year to 60% this year. A lot of that growth is due to the district’s willingness to help families in need. We have more than 50 instruments on their way for beginners who could not afford their own.”
Day and all the orchestra students will have a chance to show off their newly acquired skills at their first concert on Friday, October 30, in Winton Woods Intermediate School’s orchestra room. “Yes, I’m going to play at the concerts,” said Day. “I want to get the whole experience.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Winton Woods Intermediate School Principal Jeremy Day and fifth grader Alexie Mavridoglou practice viola for their upcoming concert on October 30. Photo by Teresa Cleary.