For the first time in six years, West Hempstead High School hosted the Zone 13 New York State School Music Association Festival on April 17 and 18. Roughly 100 students from West Hempstead, along with about 900 others from nearby schools participated in the festival, where their hard work was put on full display for judges to evaluate.
Up to 50 West Hempstead students volunteered at the festival each evening by helping students sign in and directing them where they needed to go. Staff members from throughout NYSSMA area 6, Zone 13B volunteered in various capacities throughout the building as well.
“It’s extremely important because it highlights all of the hard work students have been putting in for years into their music,” West Hempstead Director of Fine Arts Ryan Emmanuel-Cooke said of the students who took part in the festival. “Music theory and music education are extremely important to the development of children.”
Students through grade 12 spent months working on their pieces that were presented at the festival, and Zone 13 representative Edmund Chiarello said the difficulty of their works increases the older they get, and added that going through the process with judges helps prepare them for other life events, such as interviews for jobs. The experience goes “far beyond being a musician, and applies to multiple facets of life,” he explained.
West Hempstead orchestra teacher Dan Dipasquale said it’s very rewarding to see how far his students have come after all of the time and effort exerted during this process.
“Every time they get to something that raises their level, and you get to see them understand things better in class or just that look on their face when they realize they’re getting better, it’s a great feeling,” Dipasquale added.