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The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

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Amelia Wiles
Amelia Wiles
Photographer

Amelia Wiles is a junior at Free State and a photographer for Free State Journalism. Outside of journalism, she is a member of the girls soccer team and is involved in NHS. In her free time, she enjoys...

NEWS: Lawrence Youth Symphony Disappears

Long standing orchestra program comes to a halt following issues with insurance
Practicing+in+the+orchestra+room%2C+sophomore+Annah+Steele+runs+through+some+scales.+Steele+plays+the+string+bass+for+the+Symphonic+and+Chamber+orchestras.+%E2%80%9CI+love+the+unity+of+%5Borchestra%5D.+I+love+everyone+working+together+to+put+together+a+single+and+unified+result.+Working+together+to+make+beautiful+music+is+our+common+goal%2C%E2%80%9D+Steele+said.
Anders Benson
Practicing in the orchestra room, sophomore Annah Steele runs through some scales. Steele plays the string bass for the Symphonic and Chamber orchestras. “I love the unity of [orchestra]. I love everyone working together to put together a single and unified result. Working together to make beautiful music is our common goal,” Steele said.

The Lawrence Youth Symphony program has been in place since 1969; the program halted its activity this fall semester since they weren’t able to provide the necessary insurance the school district requires fast enough.

During mid 2022, after the departure of the former Lawrence Youth Symphony [LYS] director; Russell Clark, the new director Jacob Dakon took his place and began guiding the LYS members. Dakon has been involved with Lawrence Youth Symphony since 2018 when leading the seventh-ninth graders string ensemble: Sinfonietta String Orchestra.

Junior Angie Chen, who has been a part of the Lawrence Youth Symphony since the seventh grade, said LYS is a community where students are able to come together with their shared love for musical arts and perform in front of many others in order to showcase their talents. She’s been noticing an ongoing issue of Lawrence’s artistic community being underfunded and is now seeing the same issue taking a toll on LYS.

“A problem within the fine arts community in Lawrence is that we’ve been struggling, we’re underfunded and programs are losing really important adults,” Chen said. 

LYS has been a part of Lawrence’s musical community for a long time and Dakon, along with a few members involved with the program, were disappointed to see that they wouldn’t be able to run all year long for 2023 due to the complications within the program. 

Lawrence Public Schools required programs that hold meetings and practices inside of their facilities to have insurance to operate in their schools, with Clark’s departure KU wasn’t fast enough to provide the necessary insurance. Dakon narrowed the only option being to cease the program’s activities until they could secure the needed insurance.

“We didn’t know, and when we found out there wasn’t time to prevent it,” Dakon said. “So we had to pull the plug until Spring.”

As Lawrence Youth Symphony is currently taking a break for the fall semester, Dakon said that the only issues they should be worried about is enrollment and gaining the interest from students for the spring semester; even though Dakon sees the continuation of the Lawrence Youth Symphony as a certainty one of the LYS members, Amaya Gab, said she worries about the possibility of the program discontinuing in the future.

“I’ve thought about it because after covid we were really set back by a lot, it’s not as popular because it’s not as well known anymore,” junior Amaya Gab said.

Despite all the concerns and struggles being thrown their way, Dakon said he doesn’t believe that the public’s interest in the program eroded completely and he’s confident that LYS will be able to get back on their feet and become the same group that they were a few years ago.

About the Contributors
Nomso Enyinnaya
Nomso Enyinnaya, Reporter
Nomso Enyinnaya is a senior at Free State High School and a reporter for Free State Journalism. She’s been apart of the Free State Tennis team for 2 years and the Free State Track team for 4 years. Outside of Nomso’s school life, she likes to build her modeling career and focus on her dreams of becoming an author.
Anders Benson
Anders Benson, Photographer
Anders Benson is a sophomore and a photographer for Free State Journalism! He is involved around the school in drumline, choir, and theater. Outside of school, he enjoys singing, playing music, and learning about life.
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