Odessa is one of the very few places in the country with a thriving public school harp program. With over 40 district-owned harps, harp classes are offered to students as part of ECISD's unique music curriculum.
The various harp ensembles perform regularly. They have been heard on local public television programs and have traveled to several cities in the US to present concerts to civic groups and other audiences. In 2002, the OHS Harp Ensemble was invited to perform at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at the White House in Washington, D.C. In February 2017, ECISD Harp Students performed at the Texas Music Educators Association Convention.
Nelson Allison proposed the idea of a harp program in the public schools in the early 1980s while serving as principal of Gonzales Elementary and arranged for 18 students to be taught privately by the symphony harpist, Reba MacHaney. The number of harps and harp students has been steadily growing ever since, and in 1998, the harp program became an official part of the fine arts curriculum in ECISD.