The 36th annual Music Festival was held at Sunnydale Academy, Apr. 6-8.

Sponsored by the Iowa-Missouri Conference Education Department, the theme for this year’s event was “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” Blending their voices in one mass choir were 146 students from the 13 conference elementary schools, nine home school students, and two public school students. Under the direction of Lisette Deemer-Parks, choir director at College View Academy in Lincoln, Nebraska, the students performed a variety of songs from various genres.

Students also combined their musical talents to create a large hand bells/chimes choir, directed by Elsy Gallardo-Diaz from McAllen, Texas. A combination of elementary and academy students, parents and teachers formed the festival band under the direction of Dana Villarroel, music director at Sunnydale Academy.

The weekend speaker for the event was Pastor LeClaire Litchfield, retired Bible teacher from the Southern Union. His Sabbath sermon title was “It’s hard to walk in a dead man’s clothes.”

The Sabbath afternoon individual school performances followed by the Festival Concert were both well attended and supported by family members, friends and members of the community. The Music Festival Concert was livestreamed and is archived on the Sunnydale Academy website.

It was the highlight of the year for many to see students who have practiced long hours at their individual schools and homes come together to create a successful mass choir with only a day and half of practice. This is only possible because of the dedicated teachers and parents who helped prepare the students for this event.

Music Festival helps forge lifelong friendships that are enhanced as students see each other at camp, outdoor school, camp meeting, pathfinders and other events especially planned for the youth of the Iowa-Missouri Conference. I am thankful for the parents and our constituents who support Adventist Education in our conference, an education that makes a difference in the lives of our children.