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Lakewood City Schools extends popular pandemic Porch Concert Series

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 5/6/2020 By John Benson, cleveland.com
a sign in front of a brick wall: Lakewood City School students are performing in the Porch Concert Series at 5 p.m. on Thursdays throughout the community. © John Benson/cleveland.com/cleveland.com/TNS Lakewood City School students are performing in the Porch Concert Series at 5 p.m. on Thursdays throughout the community.

LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- What started out roughly a month ago as a challenge to individual musicians and vocalists to showcase their talents has grown into a symphony of sounds and voices heard citywide.

The Porch Concert Series finds musically-talented Lakewood City School District students at 5 p.m. Thursdays performing concerts for families, neighbors and unsuspecting passersby.

Considering the wide turnout and community interest, Lakewood High School Orchestra Director Beth Hankins said the Porch Concert Series will continue through the end of school.

“The idea was to give the kids the chance to perform, because they were losing those opportunities,” said Hankins, who is also the department facilitator.

“That was the reason we thought our kids would benefit from performing, but we also thought it would be a gift for the community -- a way to bring them together and put the kids out front because kids have a tendency to draw people together.”

Not only has the community gravitated to the Porch Concert Series, which begins every week with a performance of the Lakewood High School alma mater, but the K-12 students have taken ownership of the effort.

Considering the kids have been stuck at home for more than six weeks by the pandemic, they seemingly mocked last week’s deterrent of a little rain and cold temperatures with more than 120 students performing concerts from their porches.

“Participating in Lakewood's Porch Concert Series has been about much more than standing outside and playing my high school's alma mater,” said Lakewood High School freshman vocalist Lydia Kress, who is also violist and trombonist.” It’s an opportunity to bring the community together in a time of fear and uncertainty -- however small the scale.

“Playing publicly every week has developed my performance skills and slowly reduced my anxiety and fear of judgment. Every Thursday, I see friendly faces from around the neighborhood that I haven't seen for months due to the shelter-in-place order. I’m so grateful to not only have this experience as a musician, but also for the chance to share this tangible unity as we march on towards making a better, safer future."

Prior to each Porch Concert Series students register on a Google form. During the Thursday performances Hankins and other district staff drive to each home to hear the music and honk their support.

“What I normally observe when I go around are walkers who stop and listen, as well as people in their lawn chairs sitting out in the yard,” Hankins said. “It’s just something that people are looking forward to. I know there are plenty of adult musicians who live in Lakewood.

“If we could encourage them to also step out onto their porch and join in, that would be great. Music brings people together and it’s helping us to get through a very difficult time. I’m so proud of the fact that it’s being led by our students.”

Read more news from the Sun Post Herald here.

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