orchestra performing at a concert


About Orchestra

The orchestra prepares and presents four major concert programs each year and performs additional pieces at various functions throughout the year. All string students also have small group lessons once a week, which are often organized to form small ensembles during the Orchestra Fall Festival and the Spring Solo/Ensemble Contest seasons. In rotation with the band and choir, every third year the orchestra tours. Recent orchestra tours have been to the St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota area.

All-State Orchestra

The annual Iowa All-State Music Festival provides an opportunity for outstanding high school musicians from across the state to come together and work with festival directors to present a concert at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. Students qualify to participate in the Festival by auditioning at a regional audition center.

Previous All-State Participants

Orchestra Ensembles

Students in grade 9 are eligible to participate in the 9th grade string orchestra. 9th grade students who play both a band and a string instrument may participate in both ensembles if their schedule allows. Students in grades 10-12 are eligible to participate in the Ames High School Orchestra. Students who play both a band and string instrument may participate in both ensembles by playing in band one semester and orchestra the other semester if their schedule allows. Select student volunteers perform at numerous community events throughout the year, usually as a string quartet.

Friends of Ames Strings

The Friends of Ames Strings (FOAS) is a non-profit corporation whose purpose is to support string and orchestra programs for youth in the community. FOAS is a parent guided organization that helps raise funds and present opportunities for orchestral string players in the Ames School District. It also presents opportunities to students from the surrounding communities of Ames, Iowa.

FOAS Website
  • 2023 Mary Kay Polashek Music Scholarship

    Mary Kay Polashek served as Orchestra Director at Ames High School from 1987 – 2022. Her outstanding connection with students, passion for music, and innate ability to bring out the best in others has inspired thousands of young musicians in Central Iowa. As a teacher, musician, director, and volunteer, Mary Kay created a lasting legacy.
    In honor of her contributions, Friends of Ames Strings established this scholarship in her honor. Applicants must be high school seniors with a plan to continue music studies post graduation. Majoring in music is not a requirement.
    Scholarship Amount: $1000
    Application Deadline: April 30, 2023
    Award Date: May 15, 2023
    The Mary Kay Polashek Scholarship will be awarded following committee review to the student or students who demonstrate a dedication to continued music study, passion for sharing music with others, and determination to grow as a musician. The award will be sent to the financial aid office of the designated institution.
    The application is found on this Google form.



Elizabeth Driskell

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