Any purchases made by clicking on this Amazon link directly benefits OCYSO. You must enter Amazon from here in order for OCYSO to benefit at no added expense to you. Thank you and spread the word!

Distinguished Educator Award

June 6, 2017

Jim Kollias selected as Distinguished Educator of the Year

Orange, CA – The Friends of the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra (OCYSO) are pleased to present the 2017 Distinguished Educator of the Year Award to Jim Kollias, Instrumental Music Director and Visual and Performing Arts Chair at Irvine’s Beckman High School. The Award was formally presented to Kollias at OCYSO’s season finale performance on May 14, 2017 at the Musco Center for the Arts.




May 17, 2015

Congratulations to Ms. Cathy Olinger!

Cathy Head ShotOCYSO recognizes Cathy Olinger’s commitment to the field of music education, building programs at numerous schools, including Tesoro High School, and for her service on the Southern California School Band and Orchestra Association Board.  Ms. Olinger’s expertise has been sought by numerous honor ensembles and organizations, and she has been honored as the recipient of the Irene Schoepfle Award for distinguished contributions in Orange County music education.




May 21, 2014

Jim Thomas to receive the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra’s 2014 Distinguished Educator Award

Jim-ThomasOrange, CA – Jim Thomas has been selected to receive OCYSO’s 2014 Distinguished Educator Award. Mr. Thomas serves as Coordinator for Visual and Performing Arts at the Department of Education in Orange County, California. He monitors the Arts Advantage Education Initiative within sixteen districts. This initiative provides training to K-12 teachers in dance, music, theatre, and visual arts to support students to obtain a broader, balanced education. Mr. Thomas serves on several boards including Arts Orange County and the California Alliance for Arts Education. He has presented at the National Art Educators Association (NAEA) and Harvard University. In addition, Mr. Thomas has extensive experience in professional development in-services, trainings, workshops, and conferences and is currently chair of the Orange County Music and Arts Administrators, an alliance of 29 school districts and community arts providers. His K-8 teaching experience includes self-contained classrooms, performing arts specialist, and program manager of a magnet arts school. Mr. Thomas is a former director of the California Arts Project and was co-author of the California Visual and Performing Arts Framework and Content Standards.

“Jim has been a friend and steadfast supporter of OCYSO for many years”, says Daniel Alfred Wachs, Music Director & Conductor of OCYSO. “We are all grateful beyond words for his leadership, vision and good cheer. We wish him the happiest of retirements, though we expect to see him at future OCYSO concerts!”


May 20, 2013

Congratulations to Steve Acciani

Steve-AccianiCongratulations to Steve Acciani, Director of Instrumental Music at Diamond Bar High School, on being awarded the first ever OCYSO Distinguished Educator Award for his passion and commitment to the cause of music education in the Southland. We salute you!