In a split vote, the Naperville District 203 School Board voted this week that only high school students taking music classes can participate in extracurricular music organizations or clubs, like marching band and chorale groups.
Despite opposition voiced by students and parents at Monday’s meeting, the board voted 4-3 to implement the change recommended by administrators as a way to bring the district’s music program into better alignment with state and national standards.
Some students will have the option of giving up half their lunch hour to take a music technique class if signing up for an elective class isn’t an option.
Those who criticized the recommendation said it was another requirement placed on students who already have too much on their schedules.
Additionally, it would make students who enjoy being involved in extracurricular music activities either give them up or be forced to take music classes when other electives might be more beneficial to them for college or on college applications.
Chala Holland, assistant superintendent for administrative services, acknowledged the staff did receive negative feedback from some students but ultimately they believe the change will be beneficial for all.
“Our goal is for everyone to enjoy our extracurricular activities,” Holland said. “(The new requirement) will help elevate the students who may need (more help) and also allow students who are further along to grow. We are responsible for the learning and growth of all students but we need the structure and space to have it grow.”
Charles Cush, who joined fellow board members Joseph Kozminski and Donna Wandke in voting against the change, said he sided with the students who feel they are already taking too much on.
“We are telling someone who is already spending six to eight hours per week (in extracurricular music activities) that that is not enough? We are asking them to do a lot,” he said.
Evan Lavoie, a freshman at Naperville Central High School, told the board it will be difficult for him to take a curriculum or lunchtime music class because of his schedule.
“It does not seem fair to hold students back from exploring other interests in order to take part in their favorite extracurricular,” Lavoie said. “The proposal also calls for taking technique class during our lunch period. (Lunch) is used for academic support or to retake a makeup test or simply for a short break.”
Tyler Bresnick, a Naperville North senior, was one of the few students at the meeting who supported the proposal.
“As a student, I can’t emphasize enough how critical these changes will be to our success in the program,” Bresnick said. “In marching band, we waste valuable hours every week addressing music concerns when we only get a limited time at the stadium.”
Joseph Ruzich is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.