(DAYTONA BEACH, Florida) In 1995, The Daytona Beach Symphony Society wanted to develop a program that would enable at-risk youth in Volusia County to have the opportunity to experience the beauty of classical music. A partnership was formed with the Volusia County Schools to begin the YES! (Youth Experiencing Symphony) program. Nearly two decades later, as the Daytona Beach Symphony Society prepares to open its 62nd season on November 17th, it has great cause for celebration. The Daytona Beach Symphony Society is excited to mark a significant milestone – $1 million invested to provide youth the experience of orchestras, dance and operas.

YES! (Youth Experiencing Symphony) targets at-risk students 6-18 years old, enrolled in Volusia County Title I schools and reaches over 3,000 students each year. A Title I school has at least 40% of its students at or below the national poverty level. The students experience 7-8 live performances each year. Immediately after the concert, opera or dance, students attend a personal question-and-answer period with the performers and have the opportunity to get autographs and personal encouragement. Teachers are supplied materials to prepare the students prior to the performance. In addition to providing complimentary tickets, the Symphony Society pays for bus transportation, school coordinators, and refreshments during intermission.

“The YES (Youth Experiencing Symphony) Program has provided Volusia County students unique cultural and aesthetic opportunities for almost twenty years. The experience of witnessing a live performance of world-class musical artists simply cannot be duplicated in the classroom,” expresses Dr. Monty Musgrave, Performing Arts Specialist with the Volusia County Schools and YES! program coordinator.

Shirley Okhovatian, current President of the Daytona Beach Symphony Society says, “DBSS is a cultural Flagship leading the community in the support of classical music, embracing and enhancing the cultural needs throughout Volusia and Flagler Counties.
It is our responsibility to make these opportunities available to the youth within our communities. I am often asked why we support the YES program.

  • Arts students outperform non arts-students on the SATs
  • At-risk students when participating in non-school arts programs have shown more favorable attitude towards school, are able to cooperate with other program participants and can communicate more effectively with their peers.
  • Young people participating non-school arts programs are four times more likely to have won school-wide attention for their academic achievement, three times more likely to be elected to school office, four times more likely to participate in a math and science fair, and over four times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem.
  • The number one answer by kids to the question, “What’s your anti-drug?”: Music! The second answer is family.”

To date, the program has reached an estimated 30,000 students. In a time where budget cuts are forcing schools to reduce extra-curricular activities, the YES! program currently provides the only opportunity for Volusia County students to experience live classical music, opera and ballet. Students benefit from an introduction of the cultural arts and expanding their horizons. Statistics show that students who are exposed to the arts achieve greater success in academics.

The U.S. Department of Education recommends the arts to college-bound middle and junior high school students asserting, “Many colleges view participation in the arts and music as valuable experience that broadens students’ understanding and appreciation of the world around them.” In addition, it plays a part in developing “children’s intellectual development.” The U.S. DOE also suggests one year of Visual and Performing Arts for college-bound high school students. (Source: Getting Ready for College Early: A Handbook for Parents of Students in the Middle and Junior High School Years, U.S. Department of Education, 1997)

Funding for this program is achieved through grants as well as donations made by businesses such as Florida Power & Light, who has generously supported the program for over a decade. Additionally, The Symphony Guild, a volunteer arm of the Symphony Society, organizes fundraising events throughout the year in support of YES!. “This season, we are fortunate to have new supporters come to the table as well,” says Crystal Romanyszyn, Director of Development for the Daytona Beach Symphony Society. “Nanette Rosevear with Allstate Insurance, Giles Electric, Chick-fil-A, and Food Brings Hope are some of our new supporters of YES! this year. And we are always looking for new community partners to join the Daytona Beach Symphony Society family in support of this vital program.” Businesses, organizations or residents interested in supporting the program can reach Ms. Romanyszyn at [email protected] or 386-253-2901.

About Us
The mission of the Daytona Beach Symphony Society is to bring the excitement of classical and modern music, dance and opera to the widest possible audience. We inspire and encourage the students of Volusia County to develop an appreciation for music. By bringing the highest quality national and international symphonic orchestras and soloists to Volusia County we generate an awareness and appreciation of music, dance and opera for all residents and visitors.

Crystal Romanyszyn, Director of Development
Daytona Beach Symphony Society
[email protected]
Ph: 386-253-2901
P.O. Box 2
Daytona Beach, FL 32115