Thousands of students left class to join the orchestra on Tuesday.

Tyler ISD partnered with the East Texas Symphony Orchestra for the annual Link Up concerts at Caldwell Auditorium. While most of the students hailed from Tyler ISD elementary schools, students came from as far away as Longview and Dallas to join the fun.

The program, in its sixth year, allows fourth- and fifth-grade students to take the stage with the orchestra or play along with their recorders.

More than 3,500 students from 17 elementary schools participated over the course of three concerts.

Tyler ISD Director of Fine Arts Sandy Newton said the event evolved this year to add the All-District Honors Choir and a dance team from Caldwell Arts Academy Elementary.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding to see these students have an opportunity to share a musical experience with the East Texas Symphony Orchestra,” Newton said. “It’s priceless.”

Caldwell students Taniya Green, 11, Shaylin Perkins, 11, Addison Dixon, 11, and Hunter Ransome, 10, took the stage to perform the can-can.

“We did this in six days and we just got our heels, it’s been a real challenge,” Taniya said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The girls could hardly contain their excitement backstage as they waited for the event to begin, but they didn’t forget to have some fun.

“We feel honored and special,” Addison said. “We have a good group. We like to be serious, when we’re dancing, but we’re also silly.”

The annual concert serves as a showcase for the skills students have learned in their music classes during the year.

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