Students, parents meet to discuss new schedule and its impact on the music program

NORWICH – A group of approximately 25 parents and students involved with the Norwich High School music program met Wednesday night to discuss scheduling changes for the 2011-2012 school year they feel will significantly impact its success.

Starting this year, music ensembles at NHS, including band, orchestra and choir, will be scheduled during the same block of time on a daily basis. That means students wishing to participate in more than one ensemble would be forced to choose one over another, which would result in approximately 50 percent less instructional time for those students.

Such a change, according to Betsy Mahannah, grandmother of soon-to-be NHS senior Josh Mahannah, will have a decidedly negative impact on each and every student involved in the music program. The proposed schedule, she added, “isn’t justified.”

The topic has been discussed at length at the past two Norwich Board of Education meetings, at which dozens of students, parents and educators have spoken.

So far, said Mahannah, their words have fallen on deaf ears.

In fact, Mahannah is just one parent who’s been told by NCSD administration that the music program simply isn’t as important as others, as it’s not tested.

Mary Mayo, choir director at NHS, said she’s been told the same thing and disagrees with that assessment.“We take our tests publicly,” stated Mayo. “How can you test the effect of music on the spirit? How can you test on paper for that?”

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