When asked to write this article, I had a difficult time getting started. This year has been rather hectic on my part, with all the insanity of senior responsibilities, and the idyllic image I had of being a senior when I was a freshman has faded to reality– senior year really isn’t easy and all fun and games.
As a freshman, I had a fantastic beginning to my high school career. I came in through the band program, which automatically lends itself to fostering camaraderie through a week of living together at band camp. It also upped the school spirit, since there was such a vast amount of friendly competition for spirit points. Both of these concepts continued through the year. It was exactly how I pictured high school, and it was a blast. The same was true of sophomore year. There was so much positive energy throughout the building.
It seemed like things started to decline, however. Junior year was a little frustrating. There were so many new students, and not just freshman. Students from other schools– Euclid, Cleveland, Warrensville– started to filter into the school. While the quality of the education was still wonderful, the quality of the students themselves started dropping. There was less respect towards other students who were simply trying to help, and towards teachers and administrators. Apathy began to take over, and it really started to affect the positive atmosphere that was established.
Rewards and benefits began to disappear due to the behavior issues and academic problems. They affected not only the students causing the problems, but also the students who were doing all the right things. Classes started to get frustrating because the majority of students, even in honors classes and elite groups, really didn’t care.
This mentality has only seemed to intensify this year. Disrespect abounds, and work ethic appears to be nonexistent. And while Mr. Vawters is attempting to bring back that culture of excellence, students are resisting the change. It’s certainly disheartening. That’s why I hit a wall when I started this.
After some thought, though (much of which probably wasn’t very positive), I had an epiphany. And I had to beat myself up for not pulling the string on the light bulb earlier.
From my perspective, one of the best things about Bedford High School is the music department. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized this earlier, since I spend at least half my day in this branch of the school. With a variety of music groups, music classes, and venues throughout the year, there’s something for everyone, and all the ensembles, classes, and performances are fantastic. But our music program is also one of the best kept secrets in the district.
The music program, unlike most of the departments and organizations in the school, doesn’t shut down during certain seasons. Sports rotate seasons, but there isn’t a single sport that plays all year round. Sure, other departments might give homework over breaks and vacations, but there aren’t any organized classes. In contrast, the music department, particularly the band, has only a short break between the end of school and the beginning of their next season. Marching season begins about half way through the summer with band camp, and rehearsals and performances continue through the rest of the summer and on to the end of football season. But it doesn’t end here. Concert season starts, as well as jazz and blues, and mid-season, the pit orchestra for the musical begins. These overlap with the vocal music department, which incorporates many instrumentalists as well. Most of the students in the music program are involved in multiple ensembles, which means an overlap of rehearsals in a single day or week. There are very few instances where these situations happen in other organizations.
It’s strange that the caliber of the music groups is such a secret. Not only are these students some of the hardest and longest working students in the school, but they are also the most visible in the community. From the football field to the stage to the streets and communities of the Bedford City School District and beyond, ensembles in the music program have performed all over the area. Wherever they go, the bands, the orchestra, and the choirs create beautiful music and leave smiles on the faces of the audiences. They provide entertainment for half-time shows. They keep the beat in parades. They sing carols in multiple venues during Christmas. And the musical incorporates dozens of students to put on an extraordinary show every spring.
Yet these ensembles and events fall into the background, overshadowed by sports, testing, and dress codes, and are truly suffering from a lack of funding. Audiences are generally small, and there is very little support from the community. Instruments and other equipment are old and falling apart, and replacements are usually expensive. This is an unfortunate fate for such a fantastic program. Perhaps a little more publicity and more donations could help. These programs foster such a sense of responsibility, companionship, and culture, it would be a shame to see them disappear.
Music is an integral part of humanity, affecting everyday lives in a variety of ways. Music is used as communication and as art, even as a business and to make a living. It’s been proven to boost IQ and to affect mood. The process of creating music takes a certain type of person, and the students in Bedford High’s music program are just that type. They’ve become adept at bringing melodies to the masses, and I truly believe that this program is one of the brightest highlights of Bedford High School.