by Becky GINOS
FARMINGTON—There was a moment of tension last week at the board of education meeting when the band directors of two award-winning junior high programs spoke during the public comment period with regard to district travel policies.
The policy states a junior high must win a state championship to be eligible for travel. “There is no such thing as a state championship in music,” said Farmington Junior High Director of Bands Heath Wolf. “I think it is discriminatory and unfair to all students because they can’t achieve something that is unattainable.”
Wolf would like to take his Jazz Ensemble to Chicago for the Mid-Winter Clinic in December 2018 and came before the board to request an exception to the policy. “We must prove ourselves to be the best in the world to be invited,” he said. “That could prove state championship status.”
Christine Wolf, Director of Bands at Central Davis Junior High, echoed the sentiment. “Music evaluations don’t give out state championships—they receive first, second or third,” she said. “It is discriminatory because all other organizations have a state championship.”
But Board President John Robison took issue with the word discriminatory. “In no way is this (policy) intended to be discriminatory,” he said. “We’ll look at the policy going forward but there is nothing hidden in it.”
The school’s appeal was a business item for the board to consider contingent upon the band’s acceptance to the clinic.
“Why not let them get excited about something?” said board member Gordon Eckersley. “I’d like to see us support the Farmington Junior High Jazz Band.”
“They are doing more than teaching music,” said board member Brigit Gerrard. “They’re teaching character building and hard work.”
Board member Julie Tanner said she’s not usually a big fan of junior high travel. “The policy needs more clarification,” she said. “But the band has won significant honors. The parents and principal signed off on this and last year we allowed elementaries to travel to Florida for the immersion competition. The policy needs to be applied uniformly going forward.”
“I’m against junior high travel,” said board member Tamara Lowe. “Number one is the cost to families. We have tremendous programs in the junior highs but I worry that travel will turn into the ‘haves and haves not.’ Some won’t ever have the opportunity to go. I’m not against this appeal but I hope the policy will be considerably more restrictive when that comes.”
Before taking a vote, Robison praised both teachers for their efforts. “We appreciate what you do for the kids,” he said. “We will evaluate and weigh in on this and do our homework to come up with the very best policy going forward.”
Ultimately, the board approved the appeal contingent on the band receiving an invitation to the clinic.