The MVMS 8th Grade Chamber Orchestra from left to right: Jacob, Ren, Hugo, Declan, Ryan, Cameron, Kyra, Laura, Sofia, Ayla, Isabella, Ava, Mr. Stephen Gardner, Sara and Ellie.

While more than 5,000 people were celebrating live music and the joy of arts and culture at the inaugural Mill Valley Music Festival on May 7, a group of Mill Valley Middle School 7th and 8th grade orchestra students were taking first place – with the 8th grade orchestra winning best overall – at the national Music in the Parks festival at Milpitas High School and Paramount’s Great America Amusement Park. 

The 8th grade Chamber Orchestra took first place in the String Orchestra AA Division with a grading of Superior, the highest rating possible, and took the award for Best Middle School Orchestra Overall. The 7th grade Advanced Orchestra took first place in the Middle School String Orchestra AAA Division with a grading of Excellent.

“I specifically chose the date we would compete so we would play against White Hill and Davidson,” says Stephen Gardner, music director at MVMS, referring to two other local schools. “I wanted us to go mano a mano with them.”

Music in the Parks is an educationally focused music festival that provides school performing ensembles the opportunity to learn from exceptional conductors in the field of music education today. Their mission is to bring together student musicians and adjudicator-clinicians for performances, with the result being musical growth, achievement and recognition for both the individuals and the participating music programs.

Kiddo!, the Mill Valley Schools Community Foundation, is a non-profit 501(c3) organization made up of parents, teachers, businesses, and active members of the community who, since 1982, have raised tens of millions of dollars to supplement our limited school budgets. The organization funds vital programs and teachers at the Mill Valley School District’s five elementary schools and middle school, including art, drama, poetry, dance and teacher grants, as well as the award-winning music programs mentioned above.

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