Preserve Instrumental Music at Pomona High School

Preserve Instrumental Music at Pomona High School

0 have signed. Let’s get to 10,000!
At 10,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get a reaction from the decision maker!
Tiffany Alvarez started this petition

Pomona High School's Instrumental Music Program (band and orchestra) is being unfairly cut down in the school's 2022-2023 budget. A program finally beginning to recover from the remote learning during the height of the covid pandemic as well as teacher turnover is now targeted by the administration’s decision to let go of the full-time instrumental music teacher, Mr. Solis and eliminating 4 in school music ensembles for the coming year. These cuts include 3 instrumental ensembles and 1 choral ensemble. As it stands now, the remaining two instrumental music courses and three choral courses will be taught by one teacher. This teacher will have to be in charge of running two separate programs, each with their own unique responsibilities. Currently, Pomona offers several instrumental music classes for band or orchestra in order to differentiate ability levels and best meet the needs of the developing students. It also offers a Jazz Ensemble which allows and encourages students to experience performing different genres and styles of music with more contemporary instruments. With this cut to the program, all 5 ensembles would be condensed into one Band class and one Orchestra class. We as the PHS student-body and community believe it is unfair as it disenfranchises so many students and their futures as well as limits their growth within an area they love.

The administration's decision to cut staffing and funding for the instrumental music program does more harm than good. Here are some specifics:

1. In its heyday, our Pomona High School Marching Band was renowned for its excellence, winning several CBA state championships and was recognized nationally as a powerhouse being a multiyear finalist in Bands Of America Grand Nationals marching band competition. This was not only due to its sheer size, but also outstanding quality in its performance and innovations within the marching arts. It won as many awards, competitions back then as does our Football and Wrestling teams do now, and galvanized spectators into supporting our on-the-field Panthers to the fullest. Even though it has shrunken to a tenth of its former size, it still fosters some of, if not, the most talented, resilient, and smartest musicians. However, most of its downfall can be contributed to continuous changing of directors and administration chipping away at ensembles with each change. This is not to mention the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which prevented the 2020 marching season from happening at all. Currently the PHS marching band is funded entirely by the PHS Instrumental Music Boosters and community support and receives no operational funding from the district. The loss of a full time Instrumental Music Director would cause the marching program to disappear completely as the responsibilities of operating both vocal and instrumental programs are immense. Adding the underpaid responsibility and time commitment of organizing and operating a marching band throughout half of the year while running two very different and demanding programs during the school day is unfeasible.

2. Our Instrumental Music Program currently provides our musicians several classes and extracurricular activities. There are symphonic band and concert orchestra, open to all ability levels of musicians. Wind Ensemble and Chamber orchestra are auditioned ensembles where musicians can further explore and develop their instrumental abilities. There is a Jazz band where students work with many other genres and performing styles and incorporate more contemporary instruments. An extracurricular drumline was also created this year in hopes of being able to add a drumline back into the marching band after not having one in almost 3 years. In the spring there is a Pit Orchestra for the anticipated musicals of the theater department. All of these aspects of the program serve to help instruct and enrich well-rounded musicians and students' lives. However, the recent cuts threaten the very existence of those programs. The most egregious of which is the cutting of our current program director, Mr. Solis, and leaving the director of the Vocal Music Program, Ms. Mills, to double as the head of the Instrumental Music Program too. With so much more than one person can handle, burn out is inevitable. The cuts will not only limit our students' capacity to learn and explore new genres of music and to refine their skills, but will also imperil their future success as musicians when they go up against more well-rounded musicians from other schools when it comes to competition as well as college audition season.

3. Enrollment is a huge issue for the Instrumental Music Program, and was one of the biggest reasons why the administration decided to cut Mr. Solis in the first place. However, it was the constant cutting of programs and directors that lead to a plunge in music enrollment, as many students followed their directors out of Pomona. Within the last decade, music classes have been whittled away-Ones like the history of rock and roll, a color guard dance class, music theory and music technology, a percussion class, jazz combo, piano, guitar, and the choirs Encore, Soundsations, and Melodia. It is understandable that some of the more specialized classes come and go with student demand, but the fundamental ensembles and the room for upward mobility within them remains essential no matter what administration labels as proper demand. If the administration wants to curb the issue of low enrollment in the Instrumental Music Program, cutting Mr. Solis, and even worse, putting an already encumbered Ms. Mills in charge of the program will only worsen the problem, rather than try to solve it. Instead, the administration should reverse its decision and keep Mr. Solis as the head of the Instrumental Music Program and have multiple ensembles so that students can have consistent leadership and have exposures to other musical disciplines. Once an ensemble is dispersed, there is almost no other way to expose the possibility to incoming or current students in hopes of “drumming up enough interest” to add the class into future rosters.

It is because of these reasons that we students, staff, and families involved in the Instrumental Music Program believe that we have no choice but to protest the cuts in the form of this petition. We petition for Mr. Solis to be kept as our Instrumental Music Program director. Allowing us to have specialized teachers in each discipline. With only further defunding and the exploitation of one specialized teacher and musician with responsibilities outside of their discipline, the program will only be killed further, and do nothing to resolve the fundamental issues that are affecting it. Thank you on behalf of the students, staff, and family members of the PHS Instrumental Music Program for reading our plea for action.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 10,000!
At 10,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get a reaction from the decision maker!