New CHS orchestra instructor values high level of program

       Coronado High School has an excellent reputation in orchestra, and new instructor Mindi Loewen has already found out this year it wasn't an empty one.
       “It's a wonderful, strong program,” said Loewen, who had previously taught six years in Douglas County. “And the students are talented and capable of taking on challenges.”
       As an example, she said, when she arrives at school in the morning, “I'll find things on my desk, asking 'Can we try this?' I'm trying to pick up on the momentum that's here.”
       Signs that the program (which featured seven All-Staters last year) is as strong as ever were evident in the recent Western States Honor Orchestra competition in Greeley, where two Coronado students - cellist Veselka Kuzma and violinist Rhonda Wilkinson - made first chair.
       Hailing from Arizona, Loewen graduated from Northern Arizona Universi-ty and played violin with the Flagstaff Symphony. In Colorado, she earned a masters degree in music education and conducting from CU-Boulder, played with the Arapaho Philharmonic and served as associate conductor with the Boulder Youth Symphony (a position she still holds).
       Giving the Coronado orchestra program a boost this year was a decision to allow advanced placement credit for the school's orchestra students. Formerly music classes did not qualify for AP, which discouraged some students who were seeking higher grade-point averages, Loewen pointed out. This year, she has 8 to 10 students who are taking music in an AP path, which requires them to do mentoring, audition for All-State, take private lessons and play in an outside group.
       Coronado's music program will get a physical upgrade within the next few years with the construction of a new, larger auditorium with improved equipment and acoustics. The $1.35 million facility was part of the buildings bond issue authorized this month by District 11 voters. “I'm so excited,” said Loewen. She is part of a team that is planning the auditorium's design. Their efforts include visits to other top music schools around the state. “We want to see what would be a fit for Coronado,” she said.
       Loewen also teaches orchestra at Holmes Middle School, one of the feeder middle schools for Coronado.

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