Cliff Eveland honored for Excellence in Education

When a kid catches the love of music in Petaluma, it's likely that Petaluma High School Music Director Cliff Eveland had something to do with it. Not only has he led and expanded the high school's musical offerings over the last 17 years, he's also the driving force behind the Petaluma Music festival, which has raised about $75,000 for Petaluma elementary, middle and high school music programs at a time when state funding for such programs is scarce.

For his efforts, Cliff was honored with the Excellence in Education award at this year's Community Awards of Excellence event last month, sponsored by the Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce and Petaluma Argus-Courier.

Eveland directs band classes at PHS, advises the Drum Line and Color Guard, and has developed the Wind Ensemble, the Jazz Combo, and the Junior Varsity Jazz Ensemble. Under his direction, the bands, choirs, Color Guard and Drum Line have placed first in numerous competitions and festivals around California.

And that's just his day job.

Eveland, a father of three young children, is also director of the Petaluma Music Festival, putting in an estimated 1,200 hours a year to ensure that the festival has a great lineup of up-and-coming musicians that will draw a crowd to the fairgrounds for the annual fundraiser.

Mark Mooney, who is chairman of the board for the festival, first met Eveland when his children were students in Eveland's music program. He recalled how the Petaluma Music Festival got started in 2008.

At the time, Mooney was president of the music boosters for PHS. Together, Eveland and Mooney took a look at the funding needs for the school's music program and decided they needed to find a way to bring in more money.

"We decided, &‘let's have a run,' and we got all excited about the first annual Tuba Trot," Mooney recalled. They planned to coordinate the footrace with the Chamber of Commerce's annual Wine, Jazz & Blues Festival. But, when they reached out to see about coordinating the two events, they found that the chamber was considering discontinuing the festival.

So, they offered to step in and help organize the musical event in lieu of the Tuba Trot.

"We thought, &‘Gee, we're more qualified to do something about music than running,'" Eveland said with a laugh. "I didn't know anything about running."

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