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District looking to expand band program to 5th grade

Oak Harbor School District is looking to expand music education for students.

Starting in the 2014-15 school year, the middle schools hope to be able to offer fifth grade band classes during first period for the elementary students.

“One of the things that I had heard as a priority for many of our families was expanding opportunities for kids to be involved with extracurricular programs,” said Superintendent Lance Gibbon, who approached the middle school band teachers with this idea.

“One area that I heard from parents specifically was wanting to give kids more opportunities...to be involved with music.”

These classes will be taught by Patrick Manuel at Oak Harbor Middle School and Andrew Judd at North Whidbey Middle School.

Should there be enough interest in the program, buses will transport the fifth graders to the middle schools in the morning at the same time as other middle school students. Then, after that class, buses will take the students back to their elementary schools in time for that school day to start.

“It gives them a chance to actually feel what it’s like to be a middle school student for one period of the day,” said Manuel. “They get kind of a preview about what the future is going to be like in middle school.”

Whether the program is officially established depends on the amount of interest in it.

Judd said that he’s hoping for approximately 60 students between the two schools to sign up.

As of Friday morning, North Whidbey Middle School had “about 16 signed up,” according to Judd. Oak Harbor Middle School had 41.

Both teachers said they are hoping for class sizes of about 25 to 30 students. In response to the growing number of students signing up, however, Manuel said, “The more the merrier.”

Deadline to sign up for this program was end of the day on Friday.

Gibbon said that the program would be before school in order to still allow those students to participate in existing after-school activities like sports, so there won’t be that scheduling conflict.

“This program is an opportunity for students to do an extra band class,” said Judd. “This is outside of the normal curriculum and that will start them early … this is an opportunity for students who want to excel.”

This program would be an elective so that students who didn’t want to participate could still start band in sixth grade, Judd said.

“It feels really good, in that if feels like we’re supported,” Judd said. “We’re given an opportunity to flourish.”

Manuel said that programs like this one are great opportunities for the students.

“Band and electives are great for the kids,” he said. “It gives them a reason to come to school, it’s a nice break for their other academic subjects and, plain and simple, band is good for children.”

 

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