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OUR READERS WRITE...

June 26, 2011
Salem News

Schools Band Director addresses concerns

To the editor:

Concerning the Salem City Schools Band Program:

I am writing this letter to address concerns in the community about the size of the Salem Instrumental Music Program and specifically the high school band. The root cause of the smaller band numbers lies not in the actions of me and my co-workers of the last three years nor does it lie with the actions of the band directors immediately preceding us; rather the main cause of the falloff in numbers can be traced to cuts to the band staff and the elementary band schedule going back five years, to the 2006-07 school year.

Five years ago there were cuts to the band staff and the elementary band schedule. The program went from two full-time band directors and one teacher who did half band and half general music (from now on 2.5 directors) to one full-time director and one teacher who did half band and general music (from now on 1.5 directors).

In addition, fifth and sixth grade band was reduced to one lesson a week (trumpets players would have one group lesson, trombone players would have one group lesson, etc.) and the second half of the lesson overlapped with the first half of the student's recess. This reduced elementary schedule lasted for three years, the last of which was my first year in Salem.

Four years ago the program was cut to only one director when a retiree was not replaced. This one director situation lasted one year and then the program returned to having 1.5 directors, which it has had for the last three years.

Perhaps the worst thing to happen to the band program was the cuts in the elementary band schedule. With band once a week students make very little progress and lose interest quickly.

One need just imagine if the Salem City Schools would be rated excellent if students only had math or science once a week for 30 minutes in fifth and sixth grade. Furthermore, as students had to miss half of their recess to be in band many students would simply skip their band lessons and go out to recess during the three years that schedule existed.

The combination of only a very limited amount of band time and band lessons that conflicted with recess led to a precipitous drop in the number of students in the fifth and sixth grade bands. Though this schedule lasted for three years in reality it affected four classes of band students.

The students who were in sixth grade when the limited schedule was implemented had it for one year. The two classes after them each had two years of the limited schedule. The students who I started in 2008-09 as fifth graders had the limited schedule in fifth grade and then an improved schedule in sixth grade.

Generally a band program is doing well if 50 percent of the students who start in fifth grade are still in band their senior year and many band programs keep less than 50 percent of joiners. During the years when the Pride of Salem approached 200 students at least 100 or more per year were being started at the elementary level. As you can see, if no students ever quit the high school band would have had 400 or more members.

On my arrival three years ago the high school marching band was already down to 117 members. However, the number of students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade band was not enough to maintain even that size of high school band.

In 2008-09 there were 30 students in eighth grade band, 25 students in seventh grade band and 24 students in sixth grade band; a total of only 79 students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade band combined.

In past years, before staff and schedule cuts, there had often been 75-80 students or more in each one of those grades let alone in all three put together. In Salem three years ago the numbers had deteriorated to the point that there were actually more band members in the senior class that year (over 30) than there were in either sixth, seventh, or eighth grade. Such a situation meant an inevitable large drop in the size of the high school band.

Band programs that are big do not get that way because students never quit the program. Every year some of the students will drop in any program, but what happened in Salem was that the schedule at the elementary led to most of the students dropping band before they even entered junior high school.

Over the last two years the band schedule at the elementary level has been greatly improved. A second full-time band director (which would take the program from 1.5 directors back to 2.5) could still be put to great use to help the program take better advantage of the time being given to fifth and sixth grade band, and when the program goes above 100 at the high school level a second full-time band director could enable the school to have symphonic and concert bands as in the past. But the current situation, if not 100 percent ideal, is sufficient to lead to a bigger and better Pride of Salem in the future.

Everyone from band parents, to administrators and board members to average citizens wants a good band program in Salem. Therefore, keep in mind that the most important element for a good band program is a strong foundation at the elementary level.

A foundation that both encourages many students to join and stay in band as well as enables them to make significant progress on their instruments during those first two formative years. For three years the elementary foundation of the Salem Band program collapsed-and this did more than three years of damage to the program.

This has happened in many programs across the state and country; cuts are instituted at the elementary level of the band program, and by the time they filter to the high school many people do not realize why their community's high school band is no longer the size it used to be.

Keep this in mind when observing the new high school band director. Keep in mind that band starts in fifth grade, not ninth grade, no one can come in and transform the high school band overnight and that as of now the first class in several years that had an acceptable schedule in both fifth and sixth grade will only be in seventh grade next year.

In order for a recovery to come to full fruition in Salem both the band directors must been given time, patience and support. If all involved keep a positive outlook, and work together the band program can have a bright future.

MIKE CARDEN, Head Band Director, Salem City Schools

Hannah Mullins graduate speaks highly of school

To the editor:

I am a graduate of Hannah E. Mullins School of Practical Nursing and I was saddened by the article concerning the lawsuit brought against the school.

There are several items that just did not ring correctly to me. First, to my knowledge, no college, trade school, or school of professional training will refund money to a student who does not finish the course of study, whether they quit or failed.

Second, Hannah E. Mullins has all qualified instructors and always has had qualified instructors. The instructors are all registered nurses licensed in the state of Ohio and have teaching certificates for adult education.

I do believe Hannah E. Mullins School of Practical Nursing is approved by the NLN (National League of Nursing). There are only three other practical nursing schools in Ohio that have that distinction.

The school has been graduating nurses since 1958 as practical nurses. Many of these nurses have furthered their education in the nursing field with bachelor, master and PhD degrees. I am very proud to be an alumni of Hannah E. Mullins School of Practical Nursing.

MILDRED DATTILIO, LPN, Salem

More on the ongoing scaffolding controversy

To the editor:

You know it just seems like it was last month I wrote a letter expressing my concerns about the building belonging to Mr. Wolford. And here today (June 16) a semi-truck hit the scaffolding, something that I did bring up in my letter. Fortunately no one was hurt, and if any charges are to be filed against anyone they should be filed against Jerry Wolford.

The first letter I wrote I specifically stated it was not intended to strike out at Wolford politically, but now this is different. There could have easily been someone injured, obviously this means nothing to the mayor of Salem or he would have had the building repaired by now.

I can see he doesn't care that it's an eyesore, or an inconvenience for people who use the sidewalks, or for those truck drivers who have a tough enough time trying to maneuver around the city, let alone trying to maneuver around Wolford's obstacle course, and I don't want to hear the driver went over the curb. I can see these may not seem like a big deal to the "mayor," but has it not entered his mind about someone getting hurt?

I'm not the "mayor" and it sure has crossed my mind many times. And it burns me up every time I drive by there and see that there is nothing being done!

As I said in my first letter if it was anybody else, well if it was anybody else I wouldn't have had to write the letter to begin with. What is Wolford waiting for? The weather has been perfect, there is no reason I can think of that this building has not been repaired or at least made suitably safe. Unless Wolford's waiting for a truck to do what it did today, possibly giving Salem's mayor a reason to sue a trucking company for damages done to his building. That would be cozy for the mayor. I'm not suggesting or implying this is what Wolford's up to, it just happens to cross my mind. I'm not making any accusations of any kind. Just call it freedom of thought!

I'm not a citizen of Salem so I can't vote, but I would have to wonder whether I would want to vote for somebody who shows such lack of concern for the safety of his own people. If he doesn't care about that, does he care about anything else that goes on in Salem? Makes you kind of wonder, doesn't it?

And thanks for Mr. Wolford for getting Salem on the news, showing how well kept our store owners keep their buildings. I am sure there are a lot of people that would like to thank Mr. Wolford for the the added inconvenience of the detour, spending taxpayers' dollars on their police officers having to direct traffic. Oh, I bet the truck driver would really love to show his appreciation, I just hope it didn't cost him his job!

Well, I think I've said enough, I wish I could say I feel better, but I don't, and I won't until that building is no longer a safety hazard to the public. And it really bugs me that Wolford shows no concern for the problems this building can cause and has caused, it's been a year, what is he waiting on? I wish someone could give me an answer to that question.

DEBRA BARKER, Salem

Truck driver writes open letter to mayor

To the editor:

Dear Mr. Mayor,

At first I debated writing this letter but after much encouragement from others I felt compelled.

As a fellow truck driver, I had mixed emotions when I heard the news of what happened on that dreadful morning of June 16. Part of me was saddened on what was going through that poor driver's mind whereas another part of me was focused on all of that "beautiful scaffolding" that was on the brink of collapsing.

I work for a nationally known carrier myself and if his company operates anything like mine, I'm sure his employer pulled him into the office and gave him a bunch of paperwork to fill out and who knows? Maybe even a drug test. But if on the paperwork it asked the question, "What could you have done to prevent this from happening?" I hope he wrote, "This accident could not have been prevented due to unsightly construction materials erected in my path of travel."

I didn't have the pleasure to be there that morning but I heard you were there to "oversee" the operations.

Do us all a favor and remove the building. If you want us to, we'll all be there for you the day it happens and we'll all bring tissues. Of course, you'll be the only one needing them to wipe the tears from your eyes because we won't be crying ... And who knows? If you're quick enough about it ... it might get you re-elected.

JASON SHINN, Salem

This writer isn't exactly a supporter of Obama

To the editor:

The most dangerous man in the United States lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. Since taking office he has done everything in his power to destroy our country. The Constitution means nothing to him: he simply ignores it.

Many civilizations have existed for 200 years, then fell from decay within. The United States is now nearing that point unless our people rise up quickly and take back the rights we once had.

Nothing is safe from Obama and his grab for power. Every doctor must purchase expensive equipment to report each office visit by you and me. This information should be a private matter between a doctor and patient.

Our national debt is more than $14 trillion, much of it owed to China. Many generations who follow us will face this massive and unpayable debt.

The largest and most expensive item is Obamacare which must be abolished. Our family now pays three times as much as we did one year ago. BO wants to force every person to purchase health insurance that can only increase the cost to all of us.

The only promise Obama has kept is change. Those who voted for him certainly knew his sordid past, but ignored a clear warning. t is unthinkable to give this man another four years in 2012.

ELMON SMITH, Columbiana

Advocates a larger post office in Calcutta

To the editor:

What Calcutta needs to offer the United States Post Office is a larger facility to operate out of. Perhaps the empty store front next to Giant Eagle can be changed into a two story office space and extend the rear of the building slightly.

A security fence for official vehicle parking isn't much more to do behind the building either. Nothing personal against East Liverpool, this is just business good business.

Don't tell me that Calcutta isn't going to expand especially since the anticipated link between Route 170 and McGuffy will occur. Any additional expansions and improvements to that particular plaza will be a plus to future growth even without a post office.

WILLIAM E. EARDLEY, East Liverpool

 
 

 

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