TRL Disqualification Leaves LHS Orchestra Members in Shock


Henry Adams, Writer

For the first time in nine years, LHS Orchestra placed first in the highly competitive TRL contest, and successfully qualified for state. Orchestra members and LHS students alike celebrated, simultaneously excited and nervous to take on the challenge that stretched out ahead. Strings were tightened, reeds were prepared and sheet music was printed in vast quantities, all to prepare for the prestigious honor of attending the statewide orchestra competition.

However, in one fell swoop, the dreams of the entire LHS orchestra were shattered. The LHS orchestra was disqualified by the OSAA due to a member of a competing orchestra reporting Daniel Fu, a student enrolled at LOHS but attending orchestra at and performing for LHS, on the grounds that Fu didn’t attend the school he was performing for.

Daniel Fu, an avid cellist and member of the Portland Youth Philharmonic, performed with the LHS orchestra due to a schedule conflict between precalculus and orchestra at LOHS.

“I asked [the LOHS] vice principal if it would be okay for me to play cello at Lakeridge, and she said it would be,” says Fu.

Fu went on to become formally enrolled in LHS in order to play cello for their orchestra, while simultaneously being enrolled in LOHS for his other classes, travelling back and forth between the two schools. He learned, practiced and performed with his counterparts from the other side of the lake, eventually winning first in TRL and qualifying for state.

According to senior Nora Cyganiak, it was following the announcement of LHS’s victory that someone from another school “called in to OSAA telling them that there were a few LO orchestra members, including their concertmaster, playing with us in our performance, which was not at all true. But in investigating the issue, Ms van Pelt had to tell them that we had Daniel Fu from LO playing with us. He is completely registered with Lakeridge, and is getting his grade in the class through Lakeridge, but apparently since we’re not his ‘home school’ he’s not eligible to play with us.”

“It’s not the first time a kid from Lake Oswego has qualified for state in the Lakeridge orchestra,” says Fu, “and that definitely shouldn’t change just because [people] from another school got upset about losing.”

In the past, many other schools have had members from other schools competing in their orchestras, due to homeschooling, private school or other schedule conflicts. Quite a few of these orchestras with members from other schools have gone to state, and a couple have even taken home the trophy.

“Crescent Valley High has had many Corvallis kids play in their orchestra, often more than one, and they have had no repercussions,” says senior Emily Elizabeth, “In the past, LHS has had an LOHS kid here or there… it was never mentioned by the OSAA until we actually won TRL.”

“It’s hard to understand why the OSAA decided to interpret this rule the way that they did,” says LHS orchestra director Nita van Pelt, “but the students are taking it very well. I’m proud of them all.”

“The rule says that if you’re enrolled in the orchestra class, you’re a member of the orchestra and can perform with them. This only happened because some person decided to complain to the OSAA,” says senior Molly Walker.

Many other orchestra members, including senior Lance Crafton, are upset as well.

“It was kind of heartbreaking to have watched how hard everyone had worked only to be disqualified for a small technicality that’s never enforced, even on other orchestras this year,” says Crafton.

“When Ms van Pelt told us, she said that she’d had the worst day in all her 34 years of teaching here at Lakeridge,” says Cyganiak. “It was clear that she felt just as bad about it as we did.”

“State is the best time of year for orchestra, in terms of both quality and focus,” says junior Zach Garrison. “For them to take that away from us is very upsetting.”

“I just hope that Lakeridge gets to go to state and takes the district trophy they deserve,” says Fu. “To be honest, I don’t really mind if I end up playing at state or not. If that’s that it takes for Lakeridge to go, then kick me out of orchestra.”

Some, including those who pointed Fu out to the OSAA, claim that Fu was recruited by LHS from LOHS in order to help bolster the orchestra to state quality.

“I’m not some hired musician mercenary,” says Fu. “I explicitly did not try out for the solo parts of the piece, because I wanted the Lakeridge students to have the opportunity they deserved. I really had no way of ‘hard carrying’ the orchestra to victory.”

“The purpose of organizations like OSAA and events like the state competition are to promote teamwork, cooperation, and above all, a love of music for people from all around the state,” says Cyganiak. “This ruling of theirs goes against everything that we worked for.”

For those wanting to support the LHS orchestra, students and parents alike are encouraged to “attend the state preview concert on May 12 at 7:30 in the Lakeridge auditorium, where both [the LHS and the LOHS] orchestras will perform their state routine,” says van Pelt. “It would mean a lot for students to come and support their fellow students.”

“I encourage everyone to take the next step in recreating the familial atmosphere at Lakeridge we’ve heard so much about by paying attention to the extracurriculars outside of the athletic sphere,” says junior Margaux Delaney. “Please support both our orchestra and Lakeridge as a whole by attending our next concert!”

Crafton gives his closing thoughts on the matter, “No matter what happens, I’m still glad we had Daniel with us, and I’m really proud of everyone in the orchestra this year. We put on an incredible performance and, state or no state, we made amazing music. And no one can ever take that away.”