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When music prodigy Peter Crane's private music conservatory closes for the duration of the war, Peter attends Clinton High School, the same school his friends, Jimmy and Claire Emerson, attend. In Miss Forbes' music class, Jimmy appears to make enemies when he reprimands Claire for her sloppy accompaniment to Gerra, a brilliant singer. When Peter gets home, he finds his mother crying over a telegram notifying them of his father's death in combat. In his grief, Peter takes a long walk and falls asleep in a barn. He is awakened by the estate's caretaker, Maglodian, who knew his father and offers him consolation by playing a record of his father's favorite classical music. Peter continues to mourn his father, but Claire helps him to find a new motivation in life by inviting him to conduct her all-girl "jive" band. When Claire's mother asks them to find a rehearsal hall other than her house, Peter proposes to Maglodian that they use the barn for a junior canteen to do their part by entertaining servicemen. In exchange for the barn, the high school students promise to help Maglodian maintain the farm and orange orchards. After much work, the students open the barn as the "Jive Junction" canteen. Claire's uncle, a sergeant, brings his troops to the opening night, and the high school boys are dismayed when all the girls end up dancing with the servicemen. The boys pin the blame on Peter and beat him up, but when Peter sees one of the servicemen snub one of the high school girls in order to flirt with Jean, a music store saleswoman, he invites Jean and her friends to the canteen. Soon the servicemen are dancing with women their own ages, but the high school girls continue to snub the boys. All the music students then enter the National Musical Elimination Contest, for which the winning band will play its own composition on a national morale tour at Army camps. The Clinton High School Band wins each section of the contest, but when they return home to rehearse for the national, and final, championship, they learn that the owner of Maglodian's farm has died, and the sheriff locks up the barn containing their instruments. With no instruments available, the kids are about to give up when Peter gets two tickets to attend a Hollywood Bowl concert conducted by his former professer, Feher. With only half an hour before they are scheduled to compete, Peter and the kids rush to the Hollywood Bowl. After the concert is over, Peter begs Feher to allow him to use the orchestra's instruments. Feher is at first reluctant to allow students to use professional equipment, but when he hears that the ultimate end will help the war effort, he relents, and the students rush to the radio station, where they broadcast their entry. The students arrive just in time to go on the air perform Peter's own composition, and win the contest.