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After 12 years, music fills McClymonds High School’s halls

on February 5, 2015

The sounds of piano notes, falsettos, and string instruments echo through the empty hallways at McClymonds High School in West Oakland. The campus that once housed over 800 students has had a steady and rapid decline in enrollment in the past few years. Currently, one-fourth of the original population attends the school—putting the enrollment at around 250 students, the majority of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds. This school year, 2014-2015, is the first time in 12 years that a music program has been available at McClymonds.

The head teacher, Valerie Troutt, who is a jazz and soul vocalist and musician herself, leads the piano and choir classes. Together with renowned producer and musician, Kev Choice, the two expose the high school participants to a myriad of songs and musical techniques while being strong role models. Troutt was brought in by Elevate Oakland, a non-profit organization that provides funding and access for music and arts in Oakland public schools that cannot offer regular music programs. “My hope is to create a safe place for [students] to explore the arts, and really concept of how art is a reflection of life and vice versa,” said Troutt.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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