- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Music will be in the air and in the lives of students this fall at selected schools in the District and Baltimore, thanks to two programs being offered by well-known performing-arts organizations.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in conjunction with several community partners is sponsoring an education initiative called OrchKids, an after-school program for young people in that city’s low-income neighborhoods. Beginning in September, two dozen first-graders at Harriet Tubman Elementary School will be beneficiaries of an exclusive cost-free mentorship along with instruments. The purpose is “to affect social change and nurture promising futures for youth,” according to a press release.

Washington Performing Arts Society, in partnership with District schools, already has begun to offer a new program called Capitol Jazz that to date has exposed about 260 students in three middle schools to that art form. WPAS-selected musicians and the curriculum of Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz for Young People are key to this project. Participants are given instruction on instruments by professionals from a WPAS roster of local artists. The two jazz groups that have been specially trained for the job are Jazz Update and the WPG Trio.

WPAS education head Carol Bogash says the program will expand to another middle school this fall and possibly others in the future to “mesh with the new music standards passed in May for District public schools.” This will involve working with teachers in their classrooms.

Family roots in Operation Smile

Bethesda resident Michael Boyajian, 18, a graduate of St. Albans School in the District, left Washington Aug. 4 for Hyderabad, India, with Operation Smile. He is among 46 students from 13 states, plus others from Ireland, Mexico and Paraguay, who attended a weeklong Operation Smile Mission Training Workshop at San Diego State University to be trained to teach oral rehydration therapy, burn care and prevention, proper nutrition, and dental care to families and patients during the organization’s international medical missions.

A minimum of two students and an adult sponsor accompany every mission abroad, comprising a variety of medical volunteers. The 26-year-old nonprofit, headquartered in Norfolk, is a worldwide medical charity that has treated more than 115,000 children born with facial deformities in more than 40 countries.

The goodwill venture is something of a tradition in the Boyajian family; Mr. Boyajian’s father - also named Michael - is a plastic surgeon who has volunteered his services for Operation Smile in the past, and an older sister did a turn with the group in Brazil a few years ago.

“My sister thought it was the best thing she ever had done,” Mr. Boyajian says. “Plus, I’ve always thought I would go into medicine. I am an [emergency medical technician] and have worked with my local rescue squad in Bethesda-Chevy Chase.”

He will return from India in time for freshman orientation at Georgetown University.

Riding high for charity

Rey Roy, 46, managing director of financial planning at Edelman Financial in Fairfax, has just completed a cross-country bicycle trip for charity. He left San Francisco June 17 and arrived in Virginia Beach July 25, having covered 3,700 miles that took him over the Sierra Nevada range and the Rocky Mountains, riding as high as 11,312 feet at one point. He was supported along the way by his wife and daughter, who came along in a more conventional vehicle.

The point of the endeavor was to raise $100,000 on behalf of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Preparations included six months of training and diet under the care of a long-distance cycling coach.

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