Three years ago Iola High School added String orchestra to the program of studies to see if there was interest in the student body for such a music class. Ten students joined that class, and the Iola Orchestra was begun. November 2010 saw the first time High School students joined the Iola Area Symphony to perform for the community, and the energy and excitement the students brought to the community group was palpable. Dr. Turner, conductor of the Iola Area Symphony, took a moment in the concert to have Mrs. Adams speak about the new class and to ask for donations or support for the fledgling program from the audience, in order to obtain needed to supplies to grow the class and program. At that point many students were sharing one instrument and taking turns practicing in the class. That afternoon 200 hundred dollars was donated to the program, as well as a viola by one of the community players! Perhaps more importantly, members of the Iola Endowment committee who were at the concert felt compelled to follow up on the progress of the group and seek out ways to help. Through the generosity of the Endowment Committee 5 violins, one viola, one cello, and one string bass were purchased for student use. This donation absolutely affected students immediately, allowing every one an instrument to use each class period, and no longer requiring students to share.
The humble beginning of orchestra with that first gift has led to directly to the growth of the orchestra. The orchestra program now has 50 students and each student has an instrument to play, though it sometimes seems we barely stay even with the growth of the program. (A wonderful problem!) The orchestra truly values the show of faith in our students and the importance of music education in our schools through that amazing gift. We hope the support of our students in this way will continue well into the future, and thank this visionary group.