The 2014 Bittner Flute has been awarded to Kaya Fernandes, an 8th grader at Sylvester Middle School.

She is the daughter of Ms. Jamie Fernandes of Burien.

The Bittner Flute award recognizes exceptional talent in a young flute player and was presented Thursday (Oct. 23) at the Rotary Club of Des Moines.

The Bittner Flute is a sterling silver Gemeinhardt instrument donated to the Highline Music4Life program by Nancy Bittner of Seattle’s University Sunrise Rotary Club.

The recipient is selected annually by music teachers in Highline Public Schools on the basis of talent and long-term interest in studying music.

Kaya is a member of in the Sylvester Middle School Band. She will have use of the Bittner Flute for the 2014-15 school year. It will be re-acquired by Highline Music4Life next spring for any repairs and other maintenance that are needed over the summer.

Highline music teachers will select the next year’s recipient next fall.

Kaya will be eligible to compete for it again at that time as long as she is enrolled in Highline Public Schools. Highline Music4Life acquires musical instruments, gets them repaired if needed, and provides them to Highline Public Schools for use by students of low income families.

The program was created by the school board three years ago and is sponsored in-part by the Rotary clubs of Des Moines, Burien-White Center and SeaTac.

“You don’t have to be a Rotarian to support Music4Life,” said Steve Swank, President of Highline Music4Life’s Program Management Team. “All that’s necessary is that you understand the unique value that instrumental music plays in the total education of a child.”

“In addition to her work ethic and willingness to implement feedback, Kaya was nominated for her playing ability,” said her music teacher Claire Waistell. “Kaya always makes time to coach her peers and to ensure she is prepared for assessments and rehearsals. She is a true Sylvester Tomcat!”

Besides the Highline program, Music4Life also operates programs supporting Edmonds, Mukilteo, Seattle and Shoreline Public Schools. An emergent program is being developed for Everett Public Schools. The program acquires used instruments from the garages or attics of adults who understand that their highest and best use is to put them back into play.

With adequate resources, Music4Life can also buy new musical instruments for school districts. Currently, more than 70 percent of students in Highline Public Schools are from families that are income-eligible.

The Highline Music4Life initiative was created to help as many of them as possible. Music4Life enjoys the support of notable music advocates and other community leaders. Gerard Schwarz, world-renowned conductor laureate of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, endorsed the program, saying:

“This wonderful program begins with children in elementary school at a time when, if they’re interested and talented in any way, they have the greatest chance of success. Many people tell me of the impact that direct knowledge of instrumental music has had on their lives. We intend to give this advantage to all our children.”

Highline Music4Life is supported in part by grants from 4Culture; First Choice Health; the Rotary Clubs of Des Moines, Burien-White Center and SeaTac; the Casperson Family Foundation; and other organizations and individuals.

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.