Music festival at Meadowdale High School promotes student involvement in arts

High School Nation, an organization aimed at promoting creative expression among teenagers through music, the arts and media at high schools, held a free music festival Monday afternoon at Meadowdale High School.

Sponsored by Hollister Co., the event places a high emphasis on music and offers students information about a career in the arts after graduation. The two-hour music festival — which took place on the campus’ football field — treated students to a three-act concert, lessons in dance, guitar and drums, and other activities.

“High School Nation pairs with large public high schools and brands to bring an event that promotes the performing arts in public school’s across the country,” said Director of Artist Relations Dirk Otis.

This is the second time that High School Nation has visited the school. Last year, the organization performed an activity during lunch about inclusion that involved students writing positive messages that were displayed in the school. 

“When I heard there was more, we looked at it and thought this would be a great idea,” said Beth Marriott, the school’s activities and athletic director.

The music lineup included performances by Australian pop singer Emily Perry, San Diego-based alternative/indie rock band Almost Monday and Baltimore rapper Lil’ Key.

Before the concert, students and faculty were invited to showcase their musical talents in a singing/freestyle competition. The event also included prize giveaways and activities, like a station for students to make t-shirts.

Dance lessons were offered by choreographer Liz Legrand, who has danced with artists like Beyonce and Usher. During the show, Legrand brought students on stage to perform for their classmates.

Schools that host the events receive a donation package with professional music studio equipment, like music software, keyboard, drum set, microphones, speakers, and an acoustic guitar capable of plugging into an amp. Director of Brand Partnerships Michael Cantillon said the new equipment helps schools expand their music programs.

“Schools are launching digital music as a course, which is a little more intriguing for some kids,” he said.

Marriott said she is glad the school could host an event encouraging the arts after the school’s drama program was impacted due to district-wide budget cuts in the 2019-20 year. Though the school’s arts program has since fully recovered, Marriott said she is happy they could do more.

“Our arts really took a hit and it’s just hard with the way things happened,” she said. “This was a great way to encourage the arts.”

High School Nation is scheduled to perform at four other high schools in the Seattle area, before taking the tour across the U.S.

–Story and photos by Cody Sexton

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