labor in factories or work in some capacity with these industries. Many are also immigrants
from Mexico, some legal and some not, who have come to the city seeking a better life and
employment. While not at the poverty level, most students are eligible for the federally funded
free breakfast program and nearly half of the students qualify for government funded free or
reduced priced lunch. While the student body is 46.8% Caucasian, the diverse and
multicultured school population includes Latino (40%), African-American (10.7%),
Asian/Pacific Islander (1.3%), and Native American (1.2%) students. There is an average of 15
students for each teacher, and 36.7% of the students are formally recognized for outstanding
academic achievement. This school’s day consists of four 90-minute blocks of time. Students
take four subjects each semester. In addition, all students participate in bimonthly advisement
classes designed to provide them with the opportunity to ask questions and resolve issues that
require counseling and guidance. School-wide activities, often connected to civic or social
causes, are scheduled during the advisement period. As at many schools across the country, the
faculty at this high school is concerned with the scores students earn on standardized tests,
particularly in reading. As a result, there are periods during the day when students are required
to read silently in the hopes of improving their skills.
The string orchestra in this study has 8 first-year students, 11 sophomores, 5 juniors,
and 4 seniors. Most members are Caucasian; however, one student is African American, and 5
are Latino. A majority of the students who play violin and viola own their instruments.
Students playing cellos and string basses do so on instruments that are owned by the school.
These instruments are old and of poor quality. One student studies her instrument with a teacher
outside of school. The rest learned to play their instruments in the school orchestra. The
orchestra rehearses every day during the school day for 90 minutes and performs in several