By Tom Tolen /

After what seems like an eternity of just having a band and no orchestra, Brighton High School, starting in the fall, will sport a freshman orchestra program. The music teacher will be Steven Fernandez, who teaches orchestra to students in the program at Maltby Intermediate School. Fernandez will continue to run the orchestra program at Maltby this fall and will have the high school freshman program — to which 17 students have signed up — added to his duties.

Superintendent Matthew Outlaw says he is happy that the orchestra program has been so far successful, saying, “It’s just going to grow; we’re on the right track.” The orchestra program was begun in 2017 under the leadership of then-superintendent Greg Gray and former assistant superintendent of finance Maria Gistinger, who believed that a large high school like Brighton, with over 2,000 students, should have a full-fledged orchestra. The decision was made to start with a program in the 5th grade the first year and add a grade each year. Now that the program is in its fifth year, it has advanced to the high school level. Outlaw says he is fully committed to the program and his goal is to keep adding a year through the 2024 academic year when it will continue through the 12th grade. The philosophy is that this way, the lower grades will act as feeder programs for the high school, much as they do for band.

Meanwhile, a new music teacher has been chosen to be responsible for the orchestra program at Scranton Middle School. The name of the individual will be announced at the next board meeting on June 28th. Former Scranton orchestra teacher Joseph Alcocer, who was part-time, resigned effective May 20th, stating that he was looking for a full-time position. Outlaw says the same FTE status will continue with his successor, meaning the person selected will also be part-time.

Photo - Lower grade level orchestra class in the Brighton Area Schools