The Sequim High School band entertains the crowd at halftime of the school’s Oct. 4 Homecoming football game. Band participation is down with 24-credit academic graduation requirements, SHS director Vern Fosket says. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

The Sequim High School band entertains the crowd at halftime of the school’s Oct. 4 Homecoming football game. Band participation is down with 24-credit academic graduation requirements, SHS director Vern Fosket says. Sequim Gazette file photo by Michael Dashiell

School board offers support for SHS music programs

SHS band, choir teachers say Core 24 is “really hard” on their programs

Graduation requirements are up, while local prep and choir participation is down.

In answering questions from school board members at the board’s Nov. 18 meeting, Sequim High band director Vern Fosket and SHS choir director John Lorentzen agreed that Washington’s Core 24 graduation requirements makes running a music program “really hard,” and that music at SHS has suffered for it.

Band and choir student numbers have dropped, the teachers noted, and Foskett added that both programs regularly have students have to take a quarter or a semester off to take a required class that conflicts with music on their schedule.

For their part, school board directors and interim superintendent Rob Clark told Fosket and Lorentzen to not hesitate to come to them with needs for support or concerns or even just information the board might miss as to how to help their programs succeed.

While band and choir participation is dropping off, Fosket and Lorentzen detailed the Tri-M Honor Society club at Sequim High School — “well, more like a Bi-M here, since we don’t have an orchestra,” Foskett quipped — which is a national group that encourages high school students in music programs to perform community service projects while demanding academic rigor.

Fosket and Lorentzen called the program a success and hope to be able to expand it in the future.

Fosket referred to it as an “interesting” start to the year for the SHS band: A large thunderstorm in the Seattle area on the the first weekend of the school year cut short the band’s Husky Band Day experience, forcing the band to miss its halftime show so students could make it home on schedule.

The choir, meanwhile, has already been through their fall concert season, Lorentzen said, with choir members participating in a Veterans Day ceremony at the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Sector Field Office Port Angeles.

Their presentation closed with a performance from the SHS vocal ensemble, who performed “This is why we sing” for the school board and those in attendance.

Other business

• Clark spoke during his report about the district’s Partners In Education program with local businesses and organizations. He said that he couldn’t find how the list had been put together — board president Brian Kuh later noted that he did not recall there having been a formal process for that — and that he wants to look into creating more formal guidelines to “make the process clearer.” Clark noted that he’s more concerned about making sure that local groups that should be on the list are not left off in the future, rather than excluding and groups currently listed as a partner.

• During public comments, district bus driver Tom Kelly expressed a desire to see less “aspirational” presentations for things like school improvement plans like the board saw from SHS at their Nov. 4 board meeting, and more “nuts and bolts to actually get things done.” This was a sentiment echoed by board directors Larry Jeffryes and Jim Stoffer later on in the meeting.

• Enrollment is down slightly in November, with the district posting a full-time equivalent of 2,670 students, down from 2,685 in October and down from 2,750 in November of 2018.

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