School Board votes down band and choir trip to Hawaii

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After a month of deliberation, the Switzerland County School Board followed the recommendation of superintendent Tracy Caddell and turned down the proposed trip by the high school band and choir to Hawaii.

The school board made the decision at its meeting on Monday, February 27th.

In making his recommendation, the superintendent stated that he or the board was in no way opposed to the band and choir — but that he just couldn’t support this one trip to Hawaii.

“I recommended to the school board that they should not approve the band and choir trip to Hawaii in 2007,” Tracy Caddell said. “I did, however, make a proposal to the school board and the band and choir about different programs that they could participate in.”

The superintendent’s alternate proposal was for the band to become a full member of the Indiana State School Music Association, and also to allow both the band and choir to participants in the state and regional band and choir contests. He said that this organization was much like the IHSAA for music departments.

“The music association holds district, regional, and state competitions all over the state and region in the fall of the year,” Tracy Caddell said. “This would give our band the opportunity to perform at many different venues, and to perform much more than just one time.”

Superintendent Caddell said that the Indiana State Music Association holds competitions in September, October, and November; and there is also a state finals competition held each year at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis for those bands that qualify.

One of the regional competitions was held last year in St. Louis, so the Switzerland County Marching Band’s participation could mean several trips around the Midwest.

The superintendent said that school bands are put into groups based on size for the various competitions, and that these competitions would give the local band something to strive for and to work to improve.

“Quite frankly, right now our band may not be able to participate because of numbers,” the superintendent said. “But we need to build to that level. Even if we can’t participate in the state finals, I think that we should take our band to the state finals as a field trip so that they can see what they need to strive for in terms of performance.”

The superintendent also recommended that the high school choir expand its performance schedule, which currently is limited to the annual “Soup, Salad, and Song” event. He said that he would like to see the choir performances increased to possibly as many as 10-14 events each year; ranging from holiday performances to events at the local nursing home or other venues.

Though he opted to oppose the Hawaii trip, the superintendent is in favor of making outside trips available to the band, choir, and other groups.

“I’m not opposed to things such as trips at all,” Tracy Caddell said. “The key now is to get our kids into these band contests, because the more they perform, the better they will get. There are many different events around that we can participate in. I’m sure there are many holiday parades that we can march in, but those are things we need to strive for as we move forward with our band program.”

Tracy Caddell also noted that cost was a deciding factor in his recommendation to not approve the trip.

Members of the Band Boosters and band director Bill Kindle had estimated that taking 100 band and choir students and chaperones to Hawaii would cost approximately $1,500 per student — and the superintendent felt that it was not feasible to accomplish the extensive fund raising that would have been necessary for the band and choir to make the trip.

“Again, I think taking closer, less expensive trips will still allow our students to see other places, but will also allow them to perform more and get better at performing,” the superintendent said. “I think state recognition would garner more community and civic pride than a trip to Hawaii.”

Another possibility for performances would come through membership in the Indiana Music Educators Association; which holds non-competitive festivals for middle school and junior high bands; concert bands; jazz bands; stage bands; orchestras; and choirs.

The school board approved the superintendent’s recommendation to not allow the trip by a 5-2 vote, with members Jack Ranz, Laurice See, Jim Phipps, Wilma Swango, and Duane Cole voting for the recommendation; and members Bill Roberts and Andy Truitt voting against the recommendation.