Band booster: District commits to the music arts. Really?

Due to District 728 budget cuts, the Elk River High School football coaches will now split their time between Elk River and Zimmerman. Therefore, the ERHS football team will now only practice two times per week.  The locker room and weight room will be locked after school on the days when the coaches are not on site. Also, the number of games will be cut due to logistics and time being split between the two programs. We understand this will create some challenges, however, we feel confident that you can still have a winning season.  Go Elks!

Does this sound crazy? Yes! Would we all be outraged? YES!

But that is exactly what is happening to the music program at Elk River High School. The arts are once again falling victim to budget cuts. And our superior quality music program at ERHS is now facing that same scenario as Mr. Rosner has been informed that next year his position will be split between ERHS and Zimmerman.

We’ve been down this road before. However, the past two years he has been a full-time music teacher at ERHS. The result is a band program that has been able to offer superior music educational and performance opportunities for the students, including honor bands, solo/ensemble contests, top notch jazz bands, pep bands, pit orchestras, band trips, community performances, Young People’s Concert, the annual Veterans Day concert, swing dances, clinicians and much more! Sadly, many of these will not be feasible next year if Mr. Rosner has to split his time between both locations.

• Ask the band students how they’ve been able to study and master increasingly challenging music due to Mr. Rosner being available full-time at ERHS.

• Ask them about the sheer volume of music they were able to add to their repertoire with all the available opportunities created for them.

• Ask the fourth and fifth graders who attended the standing-room-only Young People’s Concert if they were inspired by that event.

• Ask the jazz students who commit to 6:30 a.m. rehearsals what it means to them knowing they are part of a jazz program that continually receives the highest honors at contests.

• Ask the graduating band students if being a part of this superb band program helped them with college acceptance and scholarships.

• Ask veterans and their families what the annual Veterans Day concert means to them.

• Ask the eighth graders if they are excited about coming into a band program they know has a superior reputation.

• Ask our community if they enjoyed the outstanding performances on the Fourth of July by the ERHS and alumni jazz band.

• Ask our senior class if they would be OK with not having commencement music played at their upcoming graduation.

• Ask our sports teams if they appreciate the pep band being in the stands, that maybe, just maybe, their school spirit and keeping the crowd fired up helped push the Elks to a win!

The talent, dedication and passion of the ERHS music students, under Mr. Rosner’s direction, has resulted in a music arts program that has strived for and achieved excellence.

After all, this is what the district said it wanted, correct?

January 3, 2012 Star News

Headline:  First steps made to rebuild district’s band, choir program

…The Elk River Area School Board took baby steps in 2011 toward rebuilding the school district’s beleaguered band and choir program. The initial changes, which are part of a three-year commitment, focused on the middle school level, where music became a sixth-grade requirement and the option of study hall was eliminated. The hope was to re-engage students and build interest in the high school music program.

February 13, 2012 Star News

Headline: Sixth graders march to new education beat

…It appears the Elk River Area School District’s decision to replace study hall with music classes for sixth-grade students is creating the desired effect. A pair of music teachers and Mary Alberts, a curriculum specialist for the school district, came forward to say kids were enjoying the opportunity to learn about music — and do music. In addition to band and choir, the district is now offering a basic music exploration class as part of a staged multi-year effort to rebuild the district’s music program that has fallen on hard times.

Ironically, those ‘hard times’ began when the district itself made the decision to go from a seven-period day to a six-period day, which created immense scheduling challenges for band (and choir) students to remain in those programs all four years of their high school career and still complete graduation  requirements.

July 16, 2012 Star News

Headline: Despite success, scheduling still poses band program challenges

…The band program’s toughest obstacle remains scheduling issues that make it tough for band students to take four years of band. The significance is that some students fall away from the program even though they would like to stay with it.   

Despite the obstacles, the ERHS band program continues to raise the bar; receiving multiple awards, high remarks from clinicians, respect from other NWSC bands, top scores from judges and a superior reputation among its peers:

Mr. Rosner,

I wanted to write to you and tell you that all of my students were VERY impressed by your band’s performance yesterday. I was warming up one of our bands so unfortunately I missed seeing you guys myself. I’m even more bummed after hearing what my students had to say…

They all said your band was the most professional and musically skilled ensemble of the day!

Thanks for providing my students with a positive model to work towards.

Sincerely, Chad A., Saint Francis High School band director

Bottom line, the ERHS band program is a shining star in our district! It works. It is an example of what one teacher can do to make such an overwhelming positive impact in the lives of the students and our community. We ask the district to keep your commitment to the arts, and commit to keeping ONE full-time band teacher, Mr. Rosner, at ERHS.  This band program is not just a fine art credit. It’s so much more. And it undeniably educates, inspires and empowers students.

That is what you wanted, right? — Jill Griffiths, president, Elk River High School Band Boosters