Where I Stand: Support music in the schools

Editor’s Note: Tristan McMichael is a member of the Quincy High School Class of 2021; this is the statement that he read to the school board July 29:

Today, I am going to read aloud an email I sent to administration yesterday. I would like to preface this by stating how disappointed I am. Disappointed that I have had to fight to keep Quincy’s music program alive for the last seven years. Disappointed that I have had to fight to gain resources for our program. Disappointed that four years ago, it took a group of students, parents, and community members coming to a board meeting to get any form of district support for music past the bare minimum. I am disappointed that after all this, I am back to having to come to the board to get our program off the chopping block.

Our wonderful golden grads have spent the last year fundraising for our program. Was this in vain? I have spent the last year fundraising to purchase a bassoon for the program. Was this in vain?

You know what is really sad? The fact that this time, music is not the only art on the chopping block.

I am astonished that we are still flying positions for a head basketball coach, a head girls soccer coach, a head JV football coach, a head JV volleyball coach, and a head varsity volleyball coach but we can’t be bothered to hire or fly the position for a music teacher, a woodshop teacher, or a metalshop teacher.

Now I will read aloud the email:

Dear P.U.S.D./P.C.O.E. Governing Board, Superintendent Oestreich, and Principal Brown,

I would like to express my concerns about the lack of elective teachers at Quincy High School after hearing that the three open elective teacher positions (Music, Woodshop, and Metalshop) were frozen.

As a Senior who has already lost school and senior traditions, sporting events, visiting in person with friends, and more to COVID-19, I need to draw the line at limiting electives for students.

As stated in the mission statement of the Plumas County Office of Education/ Plumas Unified School District: “Our Mission is to collectively inspire every child in every classroom every day. We ensure an exemplary education with diverse opportunities and we accept no limits on the learning potential of any child.” I do not understand how your current decision to freeze the hiring process of these three positions aligns with your mission statement, considering this is limiting the learning potential of your students and is reducing the diversity of classes offered to the student body.

As stated in the vision statement of Quincy High School: “Quincy Junior Senior High School is a place where I belong, where I succeed.” Not having these electives hinders your ability to align with this vision statement because many students need electives like auto shop, music, and metalshop as a place to belong, and as a place to help encourage them to succeed.

If this decision came down to budget, why did we not cut district staff? I thought we were supposed to be cutting staff furthest from the classroom. This means administrative staff at the D.O. Freezing positions to make a budget work is all well and dandy, but when it comes down to cutting three major programs entirely, what happens when we return to a full time presence on campus? Part of the issues with COVID-19 is trying to cut down on the number of students in each class to observe the social distancing guidelines. With lumping all students into the remaining electives, you are doing the opposite.

Many of the electives at risk here are the very reason students have not yet switched to the Charter School. Enrollment will definitely decline in the coming years if this is not addressed.

I sincerely hope you reconsider your current course of action,

Tristan McMichael
Q.H.S. Senior Class of 2021

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