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Music Awards at West Orange High School Celebrate Stellar Year

WEST ORANGE, NJ – The annual Music Awards, held May 20 in the Tarnoff Cafeteria at West Orange High School, celebrated all things music that added up to another stellar school year.

Students in all choirs, orchestra, band, marching band, color guard, and step teams came together to be recognized by faculty, including the distribution of pink cords to graduating students in the Tri-M Music Honor Society.

In a poignant give-back portion of the evening, senior students feted their teachers: Lew Kelly, Erin Lagatic, Josh Zimmer, Dr. Elena Peres, John Hellyer, David Rhone, Ryan Eustache, and Michelle Brown. Graduating students spent their first year on Zoom studying music, singing, and playing. They were especially grateful to their teachers, who helped to motivate them during that difficult year and reintegrate them once they returned to school. They also mentioned Dr. William Farley, who retired last year as a choir director and advisor for the Boys Step team.

The music faculty was also touched, and had a lot to say about their students and their incredible year.

Dr. Elena Peres (Orchestra)

This year, WOHS Orchestra students have shown incredible commitment and dedication by delivering numerous outreach performances to the community and our district schools. I am very proud of my students' strong work ethic and the character they've exemplified throughout the year. I've observed my high school string students working with the middle school orchestra students, and I've seen how independent and creative they've become as a result of our daily efforts together. Some of the highlights of this year included performances at the Montclair Early Music Society, the West Orange Rotary Club, WOHS Orientation Night, WOHS Student Life Expo, orchestra festivals at Roosevelt and Edison Middle Schools, WOHS Italian Night, and the WOHS Music and AP Awards Ceremonies. Students are looking forward to their upcoming performance at the West Orange Public Library Dedication Program and the MCP Symphonic Series 2024 at Carnegie Hall.

Lew Kelly (Band)

Music Awards Night was a great night to honor a very special class of seniors!  It was another fantastic year of accomplishments for all of our bands.

State Championship Marching Band

Wind Ensemble, Ninth Grade Band - gold rating at the Region Concert Band Festival

Symphonic Winds, Concert Band  - silver rating at the Region Concert Band Festival

Jazz I - State Finalist

Erin Lagatic (Band, Color Guard)

I'm so proud of our Winter Color Guard for being promoted to an advanced class during their 20th anniversary season!  The color guard performed throughout NJ and PA this season on multiple circuits, culminating with a wonderful championship performance in Trenton. Congratulations to the team and the staff on another great season.  

Joshua Zimmer (Band)

With the help of Mr. Kelly and Mrs. Lagatic, along with some very special guests, (Dr. Joe Higgins from Rowan University, Captain David Regner (USAF Band), and composer Rossano Galante) the Ninth Grade Band had a successful and exciting school year. Performing in a variety of styles by a diverse collection of composers, the ninth graders had four great performances this year!

John Hellyer (Chorus, Choir)

The students in Freshman Choir, Honors Chamber Choir and Glee had wonderful seasons and truly showcased the variety of musical styles that our students are capable of performing.

Glee started our season with a successful Broadway Night concert, which raised thousands of dollars for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Honors Chamber Choir worked incredibly hard on our repertoire for the concert we performed at Carnegie Hall in April. Those seven Spanish pieces, under the baton of Dr. Jose Rivera from UNC Pembroke, were challenging and incredibly rewarding to perform. Also, did I mention Carnegie Hall?!

David Rhone (Choir, Chorus)

It was a wonderful culmination to a spectacular year. The student dedications were my favorite moments of the evening. 

Michelle Brown (Girls Step, Jubilee Choir)

I was so moved by all the students and the great things they had to say. Sometimes, as an educator, you don’t see the impact you have on the lives of students. We spend so much of our time working and building these students up because it’s a passion, and we want to see them flourish and go on to do great things. It was very nice just to see the product of all the time and effort. 

The Girls Step team won their first competition in two years this year, and they placed several times this year as well.

Ryan Eustache (Boys Step)

Hearing the boys reflect on their time spent with the team and the impact my co-advisor Chimezi Nwosu and I left was truly inspiring. There are times amidst the countless hours spent running extracurriculars that, even though it's a passion, an advisor may need a reminder that what they're doing matters. Seeing the fruits manifest in the form of a student's growth and gratitude is truly a blessing. 

The Boys Step team has achieved much success this season, from being mentioned on News12NJ ("Uptown Teerico") to placing first in several competitions across the Tri-State, including first in the Region.

They are currently preparing to compete in the YouthStepUSA National HS Stepping Competition on Saturday, May 25. They are also hosting their first Step Showcase on June 8 at WOHS. Follow their journey on Instagram: @absalutestepteam

Following the presentations, Supervisor of Fine Arts Lou Quagliato presented scholarships to graduating seniors who will be pursuing a musical major in college. These monies were raised during the annual Faculty Scholarship Concert in February.



Music Awards

Seniors in the Tri-M Music Honor Society pose with advisor John Hellyer and their cords for graduation

Music Awards

Supervisor of Fine Arts Lou Quagliato with Music Scholarship Recipients Hannah Florendo, Justus Wheatley, and Lilly Chabla-Cortes. (Not pictured: Winston Macabee)

Music Awards

Lou Quagliato with WOHS Music Faculty: John Hellyer, Erin Lagatic, David Rhone, Josh Zimmer, Dr. Elena Peres, Lew Kelly, Michelle Brown, Ryan Eustache



Cynthia Cumming
May 22, 2024