Letters to the Editor

School district listened and schanged its tune

I applaud the decision to reverse a policy change for the coming school year and keep band and orchestra available to all Todd Beamer High students. It is a credit to the school and our school district that parent concerns are given such prompt attention, and that if found to be valid are acted on quickly. I am a longtime fan of our school district, and this experience gives me even more reason.

Prior to March 25, a curriculum change for the 2004-05 school year meant that only students enrolled in the arts and humanities academy –– one of three at Beamer -–– would be able to take band next year. We learned this by asking individual administrators after an orientation program for eighth-graders and their families on March 23. The news came as quite a shock to my wife and I and other Illahee Middle School parents. We surmise that many parents were unaware of this curriculum change or the impact on their children.

Passionate about music, our son plays in Illahee’s highly regarded band programs. He loves music for personal enrichment, not a potential career. He leans more to business or science in the things-to-do-when-he-grows-up category. As parents, we value music programs highly because they round out the educational experience and because we believe music training improves conceptual-thinking ability. Our opinion is fundamental programs like classroom band and orchestra should be available to all students at neighborhood schools.

Along with other parents, we expressed our opinion to principal Carol Eberhart and the school district. Ms. Eberhart and Trise Moore from the district’s family partnership office reviewed the concerns quickly. A decision to reopen band and orchestra to all students for the coming year was reached the same week.

The issue of band and orchestra is still an open question for future school years, even 2005-06. But now there is time and opportunity for parents and faculty to discuss the best way to integrate classroom music into the academy concept at Beamer High.

Parents need to get involved and be part of the discussion. We have evidence that our school administrators listen.

Brett Thomas

Federal Way

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