To the editor:
A belated note of thanks to the school board who voted to keep the sixth-grade band and orchestra program alive in Lawrence. Just last week, I saw why it is so worth saving. Several hundred of us filled the auditorium at Central Junior High School to listen to the sixth-grade "feeder" band perform. On stage were 75 sixth-graders who played their instruments with all the gusto and finesse that first-year band students can muster -- and they were great! Following their performance was Central's seventh-grade band. Again there were about 75 kids -- last year's "feeders" -- and they also were great!
Had the school board voted to end sixth-grade band and orchestra, this would have been the last such feeder concert and that would have been a mistake. To be sure, it takes a lot of money to finance music in the early years; a "mother lode" is how one board member described it reflecting on how much money could be saved by cutting this program. But what a price to pay, because sixth-grade musicians by the hundreds "feed" Lawrence's junior high music programs, who ultimately "feed" our senior high school bands and orchestras who go on to perform in many local, regional and even national events. Many of these young musicians keep the habit, enjoying music over a lifetime and supporting the arts and humanities wherever they go. What a great return on that initial sixth-grade investment!
Enough said -- except to say THANK YOU, school board, for making the tough but good decision to save this wonderful music program and its staff who serve our kids and our community so well.