Mountain Range senior helps orchestra class shine

Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 1:45pm
MRHS senior leading the orchestra class

The student’s work was “more than any principal could ask for.”

Music has been a constant staple for Mountain Range senior Olivia Potter since she first picked up a violin ten years ago. 

Orchestra has been a place for her to be creative, forge lasting friendships, and, most recently, demonstrate tremendous leadership skills when she volunteered to go above and beyond to help her peers during this unique school year. 

This fall, Mountain Range’s orchestra students found themselves separated from their teacher by a screen, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their teacher was leading the class remotely through Schoology, and though the school had a guest teacher to supervise and assist students in person, there was just one thing missing: someone in the room with orchestra expertise who could guide students through some of the finer points of playing their instruments. 

“The tiniest millimeter between your fingers, or the way your arm is placed can make a huge difference in how you’re playing,” Olivia said. “If you’re doing it right, you can truly dance with the music. I thought ‘let me show you.’” 

When she recognized that she might be able to improve other students’ orchestra experience, Olivia asked if she could rearrange her schedule so that she could give up her free hour to come in and act as a teaching assistant for the class, helping out with some of the lessons that are easier done in person than on a remote setting. 

“Seeing that we were in a tough situation, Olivia saw a need and offered to help fill it,” Mountain Range Principal Tiffany Hansen said. “To have a high school senior step up to help us out was more than any principal could ask for.”

Olivia loved her role as teaching assistant. She especially enjoyed seeing students improve their playing and master new skills. Her proudest moment of the semester came when she heard the group play a western piece of music they had been practicing for a while. 

“I remember sort of dancing on the podium because of how great the orchestra was playing,” she said. “Hearing everyone play not just correctly, but confidently, I thought ‘wow, we really made progress. I helped these guys get to play it.’ It was such a happy moment.”