This letter is also to members of the West Carroll School Board.
As a music educator who gives private lessons after school and evenings, it is not always possible for me to attend West Carroll School Board meetings to express an opinion. With that said, I would like to address some concerns I have about the proposed closing of the Savanna high school building and the projected move to the middle school building in Mount Carroll.
We have an excellent music and drama program in the West Carroll district. The next time you're in the high school, take a look at the trophy case in the lobby! Those band and choir trophies are there because of hard work on the part of students and excellent teachers. Music is more than just opening your mouth to sing or picking up an instrument and making noise. Musicals and plays don't "just happen."
Currently we have a combined population of approximately 600 students in the high school and middle school. Of those students, 160 are participating in choir or band. There are many who would like to participate in both but are unable to do so because of scheduling conflicts currently in place.
As one of the accompanists for both programs in both schools, I look at the current facilities and can't imagine how combining the two programs into one already full music room will work, especially when drama classes (taught in that same room) are also part of the mix.
At a minimum, it's a matter of logistics — music storage needs multiple file cabinets. Lockers are needed for those band instruments that fit in lockers (at 90% capacity in the high school, 80% at the middle school now). Other instruments (drum sets, kettle drums, marimbas, pianos, keyboards) also take up space.
What about storage of choir robes for both middle and high school, high school band uniforms and middle school band polo shirts, storage of costumes, props, sets and furniture for the drama department, just to name a few things?
At present, each teacher has his/her own office at the high school but space is at a premium. At the middle school, both teachers share an office approximately the size of a small household bathroom. The scheduling of individual lessons is not just a concern of time but also of location.
Practice rooms are already used for storage and lessons are sometimes given in a janitor's closet or on the stage. The 6th grade choir meets in the former fitness room at the middle school and one class has band lessons in an upstairs boiler room. What happens when we lose those rooms to accommodate additional students? What do we give up (musicals? drama club? the arts in general?) and at what cost to our students?
Music is a science that demands accuracy. It's mathematical. Music is a foreign language. It's history. It's physical education requiring coordination. Music is art.
I don't want to see us sacrifice any learning opportunities for our students. I am concerned that combining the two schools into one will result in just that, the loss of a successful music program that enriches lives into adulthood.