“Francisco Mendoza is a seventh-grader with a sweet smile,” writes Sueann Ramella on Friday (7/1) at Northwest Public Radio (Wash.). “It wasn’t easy getting the details of his life—but maybe it’s because of the struggle and loss his family has endured.… But playing the cello relieves Francisco’s stress. Francisco is one of 56 kids in YAMA [Yakima Music en Accion], an anti-poverty, after-school program that teaches classical music in small group settings…. Heidi Villatoro is a sixth grader who also plays the cello. Now in her third year with YAMA, her grades show the positive effects of the program. ‘When I started school I had Ds and Fs but then I brought it up to As and Bs,’ … Heidi says.… Alan Matsumoto … the principal of Garfield Elementary School where YAMA meets to practice … says the program has strong family support because parents see their children’s talent and possibilities.” Says Francisco, “My mom thinks I can actually be like something big if I stay in music.” YAMA’s founding director is Stephanie Hsu, a violist with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. A joint project of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra and the Yakima School District, YAMA is featured in the League of American Orchestras’ Story Bank

July 6, 2016