The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.

The Hawkeye

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The Hawkeye May 2024
1st Amend Award School

Celebrating the healing power of music

©HAWKEYE image credit: Nico Francois

I recently marked my 10th year of attending the Wintergrass Youth Academy at the Hyatt Hotel in Bellevue.

The academy is part of the Wintergrass Festival, which is an annual bluegrass festival. Bluegrass lovers from all over the nation gather in Bellevue for the weekend to play music together and enjoy performances from various bands that headline the event.

A multitude of workshops and programs are held as part of the festival and the youth academy is one of the four main youth education programs.

The other programs include the youth orchestra, Pint Grass and a program called MOX. The people that run the programs try their best to make sure there is something for all age groups, and they do an amazing job of it.

When I started out with the youth academy as a little 6-year-old, I never thought it would have the impact that it has had on me today.

If someone told me back then that I would go back 10 years consecutively – first as a student, then as a teacher in training – I wouldn’t have believed them.

I didn’t know a thing about music when I first started there and had absolutely no ear for it. I went in, with my little quarter size fiddle in my hand, and instantly, the staff there began to work their magic on me.

The program directors – Joe Craven, an artist and educator from California, and Beth Fortune, a high school orchestra teacher – never stopped coming up with new ideas to make my lessons more fun, creative and engaging.

A kid who knew nothing about music came out loving it and wanting to learn more every year since that initial experience.

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As I got older, I started to develop relationships with some of the instructors and every year, I have left more inspired than the last. Eventually, I was too old to be a camper, but there was no question in my mind that I was going to go back and be a part of the youth academy I had grown to love. It had impacted me too much to not be there. So, in February 2018, I went back as a youth academy teacher in training to give back to the community that had shaped my confidence and musical ability.

I never understood what people meant when they said music heals until I began attending the youth academy.

For those two days, nothing matters except the music and the people involved in making it.

As my classes have gotten harder, it’s been more difficult to take two days off, but once I start working with the kids everything else slips my mind.

For me, it’s a way of both teaching and learning, all while getting a break from daily life that I never realized I needed. If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s that music does, indeed, heal.

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About the Contributors
Ritika Khanal
Ritika Khanal, Co-Editor-In-Chief
Co-Editor-in-Chief Ritika Khanal is in her senior year of high school and is a fourth year staff member of the Hawkeye. This year, she hopes to broaden her skills as a journalist and help tell the stories of those in the community whose voices are rarely heard. Ritika aspires  to become a mentor to other Hawkeye staff and help them discover their talents and passions, just as former editors did for her. Under her leadership, she hopes that the publication will continue to shine as one of the best in the nation and state, while also making a positive impact on the MTHS community. In her free time, Ritika enjoys reading, playing the mandolin and talking to friends.
Nico Francois
Nico Francois, Co-Editor-In-Chief and Graphics Editor
Co-Editor-in-Chief and Graphics Editor Nico Francois is in their senior year of high school and this is their fourth year within the HSM organization. This year, Nico hopes to get to know the incoming staff members and guide them through the program and their interests in journalism. They also want to hone their skills in visual storytelling and writing in order to help cover all pressing events. In their free time, Nico enjoys taking care of their 16 succulents, drawing until they can’t feel their hands and reading about different genetic diseases.
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