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Sounds Of The Symphony: White House Honors BSO’s OrchKids Program

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)— One of Baltimore’s youth music groups gets a presidential nod. The sounds of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids program have reached the White House.

Gigi Barnett reports it’s just received the highest honor for an after-school program.

After school and sometimes on Saturdays, children in the BSO’s OrchKids program pick up their instruments and play.

It’s practice designed to change their lives.

The OrchKids’ symphony sounds have reached ears at the White House.

This week Michelle Obama recognized the music group as one of 12 recipients of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards.

“This is the highest award that an after-school arts program can receive. So now when someone says, ‘Is OrchKids working?’ without a doubt it’s working, and now we’ve received that recognition,” said Nicholas Cohen, OrchKids spokesman.

More than 750 kids between kindergarten and eighth grades are in OrchKids.

Eighth-grader Joseph Wilkerson is one. Joining was his mom’s idea to keep her son out of trouble and focused on school.

“He came up in math a lot. That math was his worst subject. His teachers, they applaud him. He listens,” said Muriel Wilkerson, OrchKids parent.

For Joseph, who is tutored by the BSO’s percussionists, OrchKids gives him a glimpse of the future.

“It could make me big bucks when I get older,” he said.

In addition to the nod from the White House, the OrchKids program also received a $10,000 check.

Next week, the OrchKids program will play with the Ravens’ drumline during the halftime show at M&T Bank Stadium.

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