Best Rock Laboratory

The Lakewood Project

You'd expect Northeast Ohio's best young violinists, cellists, and assorted orchestral phenoms to rise from the tonier schools of the East Side. But at Lakewood High, director Beth Hankins has quietly built a string powerhouse. Her greatest creation is the Lakewood Project, America's first high school rock orchestra. The band features nearly 30 members, playing everything from electric violins to guitars. These kids know how to rip. They've sold out the Lakewood Auditorium and annually play before thousands on the Fourth of July. They've been invited to tour nationally, and they conduct workshops in other states. Their playlist runs to classic-rock - from the Who to Rush to Zeppelin - because copyright law requires them to use songs that are at least 20 years old. If you want to hear 30 talented kids light up Skynyrd, this is the tightest high school band you'll ever see.