W.F. West High School

Students flood into buses at W.F. West High School in September, 2019.

When the Chehalis School District’s string orchestra concert last Thursday was canceled, teacher Michael Giuliani didn’t want the students’ hard work to go to waste. 

W.F. West High School was closed for cleaning Friday, but Giuliani teamed up with the district’s technology department and live-streamed the sixth-grade string orchestra’s performance from the classroom on Friday for family and friends to watch remotely.

“We just have so much technology available to us today and I was just wondering after I got the call about the cancelation how can I make sure these kid’s hard work doesn’t go to waste and how can we make sure that we get this out to the largest audience that we can. We did our best with short notice and a dream,” said Giuliani.

The school puts on an all-strings concert that incorporates performances by students in 6th through 12th grade but since the high was closed on Friday, March 13th for a cleaning day only 6th through 8th-grade students were able to perform via live stream from the classroom.

There were three performances live-streamed on the districts’ Facebook page on Friday including concert strings, 6th-grade orchestra, and symphonic strings. Giuliani emailed out a link to the live video and let the student’s parents and family know what time their child would be performing.

“Many of (the students) were very upset (about the canceled concert). We had a few in tears but then I just opened up for questions and we talked through it. I explained to them what was going on and I explained to them that I was going to try to find a solution as best as I could,” said Giuliani. 

Robert Lucas, the technology instructional coach at Orin L. Smith Elementary School and three 5th grade assistants were able to help out with the tech side of the live-streamed performance.

“About every two weeks, (Lucas and students) put on a news video for Orin Smith and so these kids are pretty good with the technology. They were able to get out of class today and go to the middle school to put on the strings live stream,” said Trish Smith, Chehalis School District’s director of teaching and learning on Friday afternoon.

Giuliani said he felt it was important to tell the students about the concert cancelation himself before they found out from the school’s website or in an email. He said he was able to gather all of the high schoolers in a room to break the news to them while Tommy Elder, an assistant principal at W.F. West High School, covered part of one Giuliani’s classes at the middle school.

Smith explained that the district knew that the concert was going to draw more than 250 people, many of which would be grandparents, and they wanted to respect the governor’s recommendations to not hold events larger than 250 people.

This was before Gov. Inslee ordered all schools in Washington to close starting this week. 

“From my understanding, all of the live-streaming worked. I just did my job on the music side with the kids and we had the tech department take care of the rest,” said Giuliani.

Giuliani wanted to thank his wife Katie, who is also a music teacher in the Chehalis School District, for all of her support and for those who want to stay up to date on all things happening with the strings program to go to Chehalis String Orchestras on Facebook.

“I was just so proud of how our students responded to the situation. A couple of them were really nervous today about being on camera but I think they really rose to the occasion and I think they gave out a great representation of what we aim to achieve at the Chehalis School District strings program,” said Giuliani.

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