Bright flower- and fairy-light-filled jars illuminate the tables as music floats through the air. This is Music for Mounds View: a student-run charity concert held this spring by Mounds View’s National Honor Society (NHS).
“Music for Mounds View is essentially a way to bring together a community that has loved and lost many students and to remember them in a way that impacts those around us,” said Co-Vice President Aarthi Vijayakumar, a senior, who organized the event along with Co-Vice President and classmate Vicky Li.
At this year’s Music for Mounds View, a variety of students performed to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in honor of those struggling with mental illnesses, the National Brain Tumor Society in honor of Marit Swenson and the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf in honor of Mounds View alumni.
Music for Mounds View was started by alumni Ellie Tsai and Emma Hoyhtya in 2018. After multiple deaths of both Mounds View students and alumni, Tsai realized that there was a lot of hurt and grief within the community. “Music has always been a huge part of my life. It conveys what words can’t. I hoped that concert planned and performed by students to benefit and honor other students would provide a way of healing from the hurt had happened in the years past,” said Tsai. Hoyhtya hoped that the event could help serve as a way for people to cope together. “We wanted to give people not only a place to mourn the loss of students but celebrate their lives and bring happiness to a very dark place,” said Hoyhtya.
In the summer of 2017, Tsai brought the idea to the National Honor Society Executive Board and collaborated with Hoyhtya and other NHS members to create the event. “One of the first things we did was put together a committee and start from scratch,” said Hoyhtya. Together, their team found a venue, held auditions for student performers, gathered sponsors and spoke to the families who have lost students to decide which charities would be involved.
During the first year of the event, the committee ran on a very limited budget. This year, however, Rice Creek Group of the Thrivent Community provided a generous sponsorship to the event. “[The funding] allowed us to expand the event and reach more people because putting on a concert for 300 people can get really expensive. It was important to both us and Thrivent that this concert would touch people both at Mounds View and in our community,” said Vijayakumar.
This year, Music for Mounds View sold 300 tickets, raising $2,600 from the box office alone. Audience members donated an additional $2,412 at the event. In the end, the event raised over $5,000 total that will be split evenly between NAMI, the National Brain Tumor Society, and Ralph Reeder Food Shelf.
“I can’t deny the pain that Mounds View has experienced in the last few years, but I can create an event that brings people together to remind them they are not alone in their hurt,” Tsai said. “Music for Mounds View is a reminder of just how much good can come out of grief.”
Editor’s note: This article was first published in the Mounds View High School student newspaper, The Viewer. Student writing is regularly published in the Shoreview Press in partnership with the high school. For more information on The Viewer, visit mvviewer.org.