The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

Orchestra Legend Miltun to Leave MIHS After 47 Years

Photo Courtesy Bao-Tran Nguyen

This year, orchestra director Vicki White-Miltun is retiring from MIHS after 47 years of teaching. 

In her time at MIHS, Miltun’s contributions have touched the lives of many students and teachers throughout the music program.

“She’s really built the orchestra program here on Mercer Island,” band director David Bentley said, who has worked with her for over 25 years. 

Before she took over, there was only one orchestra at the high school and one at the middle school, but now there are three in each. Miltun also single-handedly taught the 5th- to 12th-grade orchestra classes for most of her career.

“She has dedicated her whole professional life to day in and day out creating a great experience for her students, and she has mastered the art of doing so,” band director Parker Bixby said. 

Miltun’s service has not just been for MIHS, but for the state as a whole. She was the president of the Washington Music Educators Association for a year, where she won the Lifetime Achievement Award and made it onto the Hall of Fame. 

Inside the classroom, Miltun has been a strong role model for her students. She has constantly put her students first and taken the time to meet their needs.

“She really makes everyone feel like they belong, even people who started later in orchestra,” senior Ava Rosenbaum said. “With all the activities she has and just her as a person, she’s really accepting of everyone.”

Both Rosenbaum and senior Ethan Cheney, who have been her students for several years, share that she has truly helped the MIHS orchestra grow as not just a class, but also a community.

“Part of the bonding that happens between orchestra students is talking about Ms. Miltun… Now that she’s leaving, it’s kind of like the orchestra program needs to find a new identity,” Cheney said.

As a teacher, conductor and performer, Miltun has also shown incredible dedication in both the classroom and on the stage. 

“Whenever we have orchestra festivals or ensembles, she goes to every single person’s performance without fail, and I think that’s pretty amazing,” senior Hide Shiotsu said. “Out of all the teachers I’ve ever had, she’s probably the [one] that has skipped the least days of school.”

Even when she’s not busy teaching, Miltun brings joy to the orchestra environment with her bright personality. Her students and fellow teachers shared a few of their favorite memories from working with her.

“[I remember] her dressing up on Halloween days or at the Fine Arts Showcase wearing her Mickey Mouse ears.” Bixby said.

Bentley commented on her incredible memory, and how she acts as the music program’s historian.

“We can be thinking about, ‘What was the theme for Showcase in 1978?’ or something like that, and we can just call [her] up and she remembers all of it.” Bentley said.

Additionally, Miltun is a talented musician herself. She can play three instruments: the violin, the drums and even the bluegrass fiddle. 

“I love watching Vicki when she gets into her fun, fiddle-playing mode.” Bixby said.

Although she is leaving MIHS, her music career will not stop. In fact, she will soon become the president of the Seattle Ladies Music Club, and she even has plans to write two books: one about teaching music at a high school, and the other a murder mystery thriller based on her hometown in Missouri.

Bentley, among the other community members interviewed, says he will miss her dearly once she leaves MIHS, and he wishes her the best for her retirement.

“I definitely consider her to be someone I respect tremendously, admire and consider to be a friend,” Bentley said. “I’m super excited for her, for what the next chapter is going to be.”

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About the Contributor
Mia LoBosco
Mia LoBosco, Copy Editor

Mia LoBosco (she/her) is a senior at MIHS. This is her fourth year on The Islander, and she is currently serving on the Copy Team! Her after school hobbies include dancing, drawing, creative writing, and playing video games.


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