McPherson parents voiced their disapproval of a recent change within the McPherson High School pep band program at Monday's board of education meeting.
Parents and students received a letter at the end of January declaring that pep band would change from voluntary participation to a class requirement, effective immediately. Students would be split into two groups and be required to attend alternating home games for the rest of the season. Refusal to do so would negatively affect their grades.
This change was a response to unmet community expectations.
About 10 to 20 parents attended the meeting, Jana Wingert giving a prepared statement. The statement asked the board to revisit and consider reversing a recent policy change for the class.
Kyle Hopkins, director of bands, said in the letter to parents that he does not think pep band should be required. Hopkins made the switch to voluntary participation near the beginning of his 12-year tenure at McPherson with the expectation from administrators and community members that the band remain “big and loud.” However, as students fulfilled their other commitments, that expectation was not being met.
Parents expressed their concerns to the board with what they felt were unreasonable expectations from the community — about 12 formal complains.
“In a community of 15,000 citizens, how did 12 people have so much power to create such a swift and punitive action that impacts over a quarer of the student body at McPherson High School? And why are these comments so much more important than the efforts of the students themselves?” Wingert said.
The response of the school, the statement said, communicated to students that what the public thinks of them is more important than what they do. Additionally, they said it was contrary to the district's Citizenship, College and Career Readiness initiative.
“Within one day's notice, students were informed they'd have to change their personal schedules, their work schedules, their family obligations, and for any student also involved in other McPherson High School activities, they would have a 20 minute window between activities to make it to their required pep band commitment,” Wingert said. “The students have said they feel like the administration just sees them as a tool to please the community.”
Following this statement, Mathew Richter band parent, said he was concerned with academics being held accountable to the athletic department.
He also noted his son expressed concern as to why athletes wouldn't then be equally responsible to attend music performances.
Both individuals received applause from meeting attendees following their statements.
The board made no comments or actions on the matter Monday.
In other news:
- Three groups received recognition for their recent accomplishments, including McPherson Middle School's 100 point club winners for reading, Horizon Award winners, and McPherson High School music students achieving success at the state level.
- The McPherson High School wrestling team received a $1,600 donation for new practice gear.
- The contracts for USD 418 principals and directors were given one-year extensions.
- A bid was accepted for $8,361 from Cabinets and More for McPherson High School's carpentry house No. 45.
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