Ohana Forever

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  • Head orchestra director Mamie Morlacci conducts the full orchestra (orchestra and band combined) as the spring concert begins.

  • Head band director Jesse Espinosa hands a gift to head orchestra director Mamie Morlacci.

  • Mamie Morlacci conducts the combined orchestra of Philharmonic Two and Concert.

  • The combined orchestras of Philharmonic Two and Concert play their instruments under Mamie Morlacci’s baton.

  • As she conducts, Mamie Morlacci smiles with satisfaction as she hears the Symphony orchestra play their music.

  • With both her hands up, Mamie Morlacci looks down on her music as she conducts the Chamber orchestra.

  • Mamie Morlacci conducts her Chamber orchestra with focused precision.

  • Assistant orchestra director Cameron Tesoro gives head orchestra director Mamie Morlacci a hug at the podium, both smiling widely. This was when Morlacci announced her retirement and introduced the new head orchestra director, Tesoro.

  • Seniors Fernando Olivares, Felipe Benitez, Noah Miranda, and Jose Gracia play as apart of the senior orchestra under Mamie Morlacci’s direction.

  • The senior orchestra stands up along with Mamie Morlacci at the end of their performance.

  • Mamie Morlacci stands on the end of the stage, waiting for her cue to walk down and greet alumni and parents.

  • An alumni, Kavi Malhorta hands Mamie Morlacci a bouquet of flowers as she walks down the stage.

  • Students look at their head orchestra director Mamie Morlacci as she walks down the stage and to see her reaction to the secret gift she is about to receive.

  • Students look at their head orchestra director Mamie Morlacci as she walks down the stage and to see her reaction to the secret gift she is about to receive.

  • A parent from OPA, Orchestra Parent Association, hugs Mamie Morlacci as they prepare to show her a gift from the organization.

  • The parents from the Orchestra Parent Association (OPA) unravels a custom made carpet to show off to Mamie Morlacci as a gift. Morlacci’s eyes filled with amazement.

  • Touched by the gift, Mamie Morlacci puts her hand on her heart. The rug was custom made with orchestra t-shirt designs from the previous years.

  • Assistant orchestra director Cameron Tesoro holds up a trophy. He awarded it to head orchestra director, Mamie Morlacci, for being a golden eagle.

  • Mamie Morlacci stands at the podium and gives a speech, going over her journey as an orchestra director at Klein Forest and other additional thoughts.

  • Mamie Morlacci takes a stand in front of the all-combined orchestra along with alumni that joined her on stage.

  • The all-combined orchestra and alumni are gathered on stage with Mamie Morlacci as their conductor for the last time.

  • The all-combined orchestra and alumni are gathered on stage with Mamie Morlacci as their conductor for the last time.

  • The all-combined orchestra and alumni are gathered on stage with Mamie Morlacci as their conductor for the last time.

  • Focused, Mamie Morlacci looks at her students as she conducts the music.

  • Mamie Morlacci smiles as she raises her hand towards the cellos and basses to encourage them to play louder.

  • Mamie Morlacci gives her students a bright smile, as they look up to her conducting.

  • Looking off to the side, Mamie Morlacci conducts her full orchestra with confidence.

  • Mamie Morlacci expressively conducts the full orchestra, as the sounds carried throughout the auditorium.

  • Pointing towards the orchestra, Mamie Morlacci smiles in joy as the song finalizes.

  • Mamie Morlacci finishes off the last song, “Don’t Stop Believin'” as the orchestra lifts their bows up after playing the final note.

  • At the end of the last song with the all-combined orchestra, Mamie Morlacci throws her hands up and smiles.

  • Mamie Morlacci claps her hands together towards the all-combined orchestra to applaud everyone for their performances on this night.

  • Mamie Morlacci poses for a photo on stage at the end of the concert with all the alumni that came to visit the spring concert.

  • Mamie Morlacci carries a bouquet after the group photo.

  • Posing for the camera, Mamie Morlacci hugs associate band director Richard Gaukin.

  • Mamie Morlacci hugs and poses for pictures with parents on the stage after the concert ended.

  • Mamie Morlacci smiles as she catches up with one of her former students.

During the last couple of minutes of second period, head orchestra director Mamie Morlacci delivered astonishing news. The silent room filled with shock as Morlacci announced her plans to “graduate” with the seniors.

“At first Mrs. Morlacci mentioned to our class that she’s graduating with the seniors,” junior Jailyn Barnuevo said. “Her mentioning she’s graduating made me originally think, ‘Oh she’s graduating with a college degree,’ so when listening more it was shocking to hear she was retiring.”

Head orchestra director Mamie Morlacci announced her retirement on March 10, after 29 years of teaching. 24 of those years were spent at Klein Forest.

“Although it’s sad, I understand that it’s time for her to walk away,” senior Areez Fatima said. “She’s had a wonderful career at Klein Forest and amazing memories. I’m glad to have the honor of exiting with her.”

It is Morlacci’s connection to her students that has kept the orchestra program thriving all these years. Through the word “Ohana”, which she often uses to describe the orchestra program, she has created a sense of community that feels like family.

“Our Ohana wouldn’t have started without Mrs. Morlacci, and it will always be Ohana because of her,” Fatima said.

Morlacci has been a mentor for all of her students, lending a helping hand whenever needed. While a lot of her students met her in high school, a handful have known her since elementary school, including those that were her fifth grade strings students. Senior Kamryn Stewart, in particular, met Morlacci back in her fourth grade year in 2014. 

“Ms. Morlacci has always been there for me, even outside of orchestra,” Stewart said. “Whenever I was experiencing any troubles, she would not hesitate to come to my aid. My life at school would have been much more difficult without her guidance.”

Teaching over a hundred students annually, Morlacci has made the orchestra department a place that feels like home where everyone is always welcome back. In fact, many of her alumni returned for her final concert as Klein Forest’s head orchestra director on May 11. As a surprise, assistant director Francis Tesoro invited some of the alumni up to play under Morlacci’s baton one last time.

“I couldn’t believe he was able to gather that many alumni to surprise Ms. Morlacci,” senior Marlen Muñoz said. “The whole surprise made me tear up.”

Tesoro himself is an alumni from the Klein Forest Class of 2012 and was Morlacci’s student during his time in high school. He went from being an alumni to Morlacci’s colleague and is set to become the next head director, continuing her legacy of Ohana.  

“She will always be one of my absolute heroes in my life, an individual that completely gives her all to any task at hand,” Tesoro said. “ I hope to be at least half the musician and educator that she is.”