Letter from the Director regarding Parental Concerns
To: OCHS Band Boosters and Students of the 2020-21 Band
From: Brad Rogers
First and foremost, I want to express my appreciation for the difficulties you are all experiencing in making decisions regarding how your child will receive their education beginning in August of this year. I am thankful to not have children in this position (they are long beyond “grown up” at this point). I have agonized over the potential solutions for keeping one of the best band programs in Kentucky together through all of this. What we do in the OCHS band program is aimed squarely at providing outstanding musical opportunities for high school students through ensemble performance, and has been as long as I have been connected with this program.
Many of you know I don’t do “social media”…I really don’t have time for it, and think it’s the original “time suck” in terms of productivity, so I have to rely on others to clue me into what’s being said, even on the OCHS Band Facebook page (I haven’t even subscribed). I wish people who have issues with anything we’re doing would come to me first. If they didn’t get an answer or at least an explanation, I could understand the negative posts if that’s the only way they could publicly express their dissatisfaction. Divisive stuff on the internet for everyone to see really doesn’t help us, especially now.
Believe me, I feel your pain. I’m still here because I love working with your kids. Personally, the collegial relationship between teacher and students in achieving musical goals, teaching kids how to learn to accept others’ talents and limitations, and build relationships that will last long after they leave high school are the true motivations for me to remain here. I could have said “enough” long ago, and have answered the question “What are you still doing here”? ad infinitum. The answer has always been, “the kids”. And by that, I mean the “band” as a whole, and careful deliberation on what is best for the individual student in band.
All of that being said…everyone from the superintendent on down to the kids entering kindergarten and their families have been dealt a situation in which there are no truly “right or wrong” answers. Combined with terribly little reliable, consistent guidance or advice about what direction you really should take to get through it, the end result is frustration and confusion. As we had to do in March, I feel we’re all sort of “making it up as we go”. Any time I’m faced with that scenario, I have to make decisions based on what things will look like when the difficulty is finally resolved—and we will be years, not weeks or months, in getting to that point after the current situation is resolved. The choices created by these decisions are not necessarily what any of us want, and are developed based on a return to a solid band program built on the concept of collegial, in-person instruction. And as quickly as possible.
I can assure you that our school leadership from the teacher team leaders all the way to the superintendent are agonizing over a situation even they have little control over, and their decisions ultimately end up affecting what I can or cannot do in putting our program back together. Everything from how to handle summer rehearsals, camp schedules, carpooling concerns, COVID-19 restrictions of all kinds based on guidance from KMEA, state and local health officials, and many other aspects of what we do had to be negotiated to even have a summer program at all. I’m thankful our building leadership was willing to let us begin to return to rehearsals, even on a limited basis. They did so because they understand the importance of our program to the students who elect to be a part of it.
I don’t WANT to lose any band students—not to the Virtual Academy, to the lack of contact over the last few months, the fact that band classes will be different for a while, or the loss of performance opportunities. While I have very little control over what happens outside the program itself—that was the case before March 12th, 2020—I do get to decide what is best for the long-term viability of the band program within any restrictions I have to deal with. For me, it has nothing to do with what has already happened, or what we don’t know, but what this program will be about after I’m gone. That has to be what I’ve already stated: the OCHS band is squarely focused on providing outstanding musical opportunities for high school students through ensemble performance.
Yes, you may have to make a hard choice for the present, but I know you’ll do the right thing for your child and your family. I won’t argue that with you for one second. Please know that the hard choices and decisions I’m making in this situation are in the best interest of the band program and its future.
We will both have to live with the choices we make, just like we always have. Thanks for reading all the way to the end.