It's not a sudden occurrence-take it from a parent who had a child in the band not that long ago. When our daughter, Michelle, attended NFA and marched in the band, it was a logical place for her to be because she had been challenged, like so many of her classmates, by the programs offered in the Norwich Public Schools.
As I recall, she started violin in fourth grade at Buckingham School back when we had music and arts programs in our schools (and Buckingham, come to think of it). Both are long gone-when public money for schools started to get tight a few years back, music and arts became unaffordable luxuries.
To keep the bottom line near the bottom, we taxpayers insisted the Board of Education and its superintendent stick to the fundamentals and lose the frills. Because of that our kids lost a lot of the fun and more than a few of the thrills as we expected City Council members to choose between police and paving streets, emergency response personnel and infrastructure upgrades. In the end, there is no end as the battle of the budget starts a new in a few short weeks and unless we've hit oil under City Hall, dollars will be in short supply and high demand.
Which brings me back to the Wildcat Band and how well those who marched on Saturday played. I have trouble chewing gum and walking so I applaud the talent and skill it takes to master a complicated step routine in a line of march while performing flawlessly on a musical instrument. I wish (and hope you do, too), there were a way to encourage the children in our schools now to paint outside the lines and support those teachers and programs struggling to re-establish themselves after years of silence.
We can literally put our money where our ears (and hearts) are this Friday night at 6:30 for the Norwich Community Concert in the Jacqueline Owens Auditorium of the almost-ready-to-be-dedicated Kelly Middle School. A donation of five dollars per adult will get you you an evening of music from the Norwich Free Academy Concert Band, the Norwich Arts Center Concert Band, Kelly Middle School and Teachers Middle School students and the University of Connecticut Brass Ensemble.
Proceeds from the concert will help maintain and expand an initiative of the NPS Education Foundation, after-school middle school music lessons through next year and hopefully beyond. The Foundation was started late last spring and has already helped fund small projects in individual classrooms in every Norwich public school. You can learn more about them right here.
Public education doesn't only educate a public, it helps create one and support those enrolled in it and help make them productive and caring adults, like their parents, who, in turn, will share their time and talents with the city that nurtured them with a commitment to learning, laughter and life.