An open letter to the Summit community
To the citizens of Summit County and the friends and parents of Summit High School musicians:The purpose of this letter is twofold: I am writing to apologize to everyone involved with the Summit High School Instrumental Music Program and to make the public aware of a transgression committed by the administration of Summit High School and the Summit School District. As many of you know, the SHS band program recently departed on a trip to tour and perform in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. This trip has been planned for nearly a year, and the hundreds of students involved in the band program, as well as their parents and members of the community, have put in thousands of hours and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to make it possible. I was scheduled to depart on Sunday afternoon and was excited in anticipation of this opportunity, which I considered the culmination of my four years as an SHS band student. However, as is evident from the publication of this letter, I did not depart along with the rest of the band due to a flawless demonstration of intransigence and lack of concern for SHS students, families, and the community as a whole on the part of the Summit School District administration.On the night of Wednesday, June 7th, at the behest of one of my friends, I attended a party at the area behind the Breckenridge golf course on Tiger Road. I consumed a moderate amount of alcohol, and as the party grew larger, I felt it might be a good idea to go home. Although I was not drunk, I was unwilling to drive with any alcohol in my system, and I was unable to procure a ride home from anyone who had not been drinking. The police showed up, and I was breathalyzed and given a summons to appear in court in July. I have not been convicted of any crime and have not had a chance to defend myself in court. However, this was only the beginning of my worries.The next day, in the middle of the afternoon, my family and I were informed by the SHS administration that I was not to be allowed to go on the Europe trip (the collusion between the school and the police is apparently quite efficient). We immediately requested a meeting with Mr. Jim Hesse and Mr. Drew Adkins, the principal and vice-principal of SHS. At this meeting, we explained that by not participating in the Europe trip, I would not only be costing myself the $2,300 that I had paid to go on the trip – in addition to the $1,250 and hundreds of hours I spent in order to buy and learn to play a trumpet, since Ms. Texera (the SHS band director) needed someone to cover a part on this instrument in symphonic band, but also that of many other families who had incurred similar costs. The main reason for this is that I am the featured member of the jazz band in the vast majority of our pieces. Ms. Texera had selected our repertoire specifically with the intent that I would be the featured soloist and ensemble leader; if she had known three weeks ago that I would not be attending, she could have selected different literature, but we are not a professional jazz band that can radically alter our performance on a moment’s notice (in fact, many of the people playing in Europe have not played jazz before). I know of a handful of students who will be completely disenfranchised by this fact, as they are involved only in the jazz band. They will have paid $2,300 only to have the entire purpose of the trip depreciated for them. In addition, the rest of the jazz band members (approximately 15 students) will participate in another ensemble, but they will be denied a significant portion of what was promised to them when they signed up for the trip and placed under undue stress and hardship, along with Ms. Texera.When my family and I tried to explain this to Mr. Hesse and Mr. Adkins, they were unwilling to go against the strictest possible, literal interpretation of district policy (as I had signed a contract agreeing not to commit any infractions leading up to or during the trip) and referred us to Dr. Millie Hamner, the superintendent of schools. My parents spoke to her (Dr. Hamner refused to speak to me herself), and she expressed the same intransigent attitude and was unwilling to consider the harm done to the multitude of families who had worked so hard to make this trip possible. I would like to note that I have not attempted to avoid culpability for my actions; I have a summons to appear in court in July, and in addition, we proposed a number of alternative punishments that could be implemented without forcing me to bring harm upon the families involved in this trip. I accept responsibility for what I have done, but I do not believe others should suffer for my infractions. Simply put, I believe the responsibility ought to be my own. Dr. Hamner, however, proved unwilling to compromise, citing that she could not, under any circumstances, display any sort of flexibility in the policy (even if alternative punishments were to be implemented).The purpose of this letter is not to persuade, or to initiate any sort of uprising against the Summit School District, but merely to inform. My family and I have personally contacted a number of families that have been directly impacted by the administration’s decision. I only thought it right that the taxpaying community should know about the decisions being made by the officials whose salaries they pay, rather than having said decisions swept under the rug. I would like to close with an apology: I apologize to my fellow students and my parents, and most of all, I apologize to Ms. Texera for bringing about this deplorable turn of events. I would only hope that what has transpired with the administration goes neither unnoticed nor forgotten.
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