I am writing in support of the Vandalia Band program. I am a 1978 graduate of Vandalia High School and I was in band. Now, my nieces and nephew are in the program. I encourage community members to please support this valuable program in any way possible, and I encourage the school board to reconsider any plans to eliminate a band director.
All sports are important, and for many students, band is their “sport.” Being in band requires continuous practice and commitment, and a high level of teamwork among the students.
The current Vandalia band program has a great group of students who display the wonderful qualities that we hope all students will demonstrate. There are two fine band directors who work well together to make a cohesive, comprehensive band program. The students are active in competitions and school and community events, and it takes two people to give back to the students the same commitment that the students give to the program.
Band is a teamwork sport that lasts all year long. It is part of the school curriculum, and a very valuable part. We can’t start whittling away at the arts programs when money gets tight. It’s too easy to do, and it’s hard to recover in the future. And it’s too important to these kids.
I learned so much from band. It was my sport. It was the one place I could go in high school and feel completely accepted. I credit my high school band director, Drew Schneider, with creating an atmosphere of learning and allegiance, and a life-long love for music. He was a role model for good leadership and it was his goal to make leaders of us all. He did not have to split his time between junior high and high school and, therefore, could commit to our music education and be a pioneer in moving the band in the direction necessary to make it the amazing, successful program that it is today.
The current band directors at Vandalia Junior High School and Vandalia Community High School show that same incredible commitment. Today, I am a special education teacher and, although I did not pursue a career in music, I use music every day to teach my students the simplest skills in life. And to this day, the sight and sounds of a marching band bring tears to my eyes. I know the hard work those students in the band do, and I know how much they love what they do.
To the school board, please don’t take away from the band program. I appreciate the difficult job you have to do in these troubled financial times, but I respectfully ask that any changes you make to the band program be very minimal. To the community, please help out in any way you can to support the band program.
If you haven’t seen them play or perform lately, take the next opportunity you have to do so. I think, like me, you will be in awe of their talent. The students are doing everything they can to preserve the integrity of their program.
Again, they are showing the teamwork that we hope all students will show. The skills they are learning are so important – even the skills they are using to save their great program from being reduced.
Let’s team together to help them. Thank you for your consideration.
Debbie Nichols Ochu
1978 VCHS graduate