YONA Instrument Graduation


One of the most important moments in a YONA student’s life is when they move from playing a cardboard instrument to the real thing. It’s a day that they eagerly anticipate: the day that they officially start identifying themselves as musicians.

In November, 76 YONA students were handed real instruments for the very first time. They held the instruments in awe – amazed and excited at the same time. In one magical moment, they played their first note together. It is a day that no YONA student will ever forget.

“Our instrument graduations were different this year, but they were still beautiful, special, and perhaps more meaningful,” says Jacquie McNulty, acting lead of the YONA Program. “We are living in a time where we need joyful things – and there is perhaps nothing more joyful than finally receiving an eagerly awaited instrument alongside your friends.”

Each student has a special connection to their Instrument Graduation ceremony, because it means something different to each individual. Michael, a student at St. Alphonsus, was incredibly excited about his violin because it connected him to his family members, who also played violin. The YONA team took pictures of Michael with his cardboard violin and then the real one, so that he could share them with his family. Ben, a student at St. Teresa, was eager to help set up for the Instrument Graduation ceremony, as well as to receive his new instrument. Following the ceremony, he beamed at his cello instructor and said, “I can’t believe we have real cellos!”

The YONA team, and all of our YONA students are grateful to BioWare for providing us with the funds to purchase 15 new violins for students at our newest site, YONA at St. Catherine. Apheson, a student at St. Catherine, received one of these 15 violins. He was in awe of his new instrument – he picked it up, played it, and put it away with such care and consideration, because he knew how important the violin was. “Feeling like you are a musician – someone who creates art and beauty, and is part of a team of musicians, is so transformative,” says Jacquie McNulty. A special thank you goes out to BioWare and everyone who supports the musical journey of students in our YONA program.

Witness the magic of YONA Instrument Graduation by watching this highlight reel.

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This blog post brought to you by Bioware