Will our school be the same without a music program?
Phuong (Thao) Tran
After 35 years of teaching, six of them at Oakland High School, Sharon Manuel is finally laying down her conductor’s baton next year.
Principal Alicia Romero decided to cut the music program due to the million dollars that Oakland High must axe from its budget for next school year, 2010-2011. However, Ms. Manuel can still transfer to another school and teach or retire. This news has been heartbreaking to not only Ms. Manuel and her students, but also her co-workers and other students who are interested in music.
However, Ms. Romero said she felt the need to help students understand why she made the decision that she did. On March 19, a meeting was held fourth period in the theater filled with questions, answers, years, and future plans from the students, Ms. Manuel, and Ms. Romero. There were many deep comments and questions from the students.
“I might drop out of school if I don’t have a music class to go to,” said one. “Why can’t we cut some other program instead of our music program?” asked another.
Ms. Manuel’s I.W.E., or student aide, Jenny Nguyen, has observed the impact of music class on student’s lives. “I think music brings skill out of a person,” said Nguyen. “This is where they could get started for their career.”
Nguyen said that she hope that others would rally against the cuts with petition or other actions to preserve the music program.
Some students said that music is the only thing that keeps them out of trouble, so not having the music program at our school will be a huge change in their lives.
After a long talk, some left the March 19 meeting with hope. There may still be ways that students and others can save the Oakland High music program.
Some students are in the process of coming up with a big fundraising effort towards the end of the school year which might be able to save the music program if everyone is willing to support it.
Ms. Manuel has touched many students with her passion for teaching others to play and appreciate music; it will be a big loss not having her at Oakland High. Manuel, a music admirer since she was four and continued her study at UCSF. Music is one of the reasons why some students go to school and to take that away from them, that is a sad thing. If anything, music can only help students with their situation and it will be a shame to lose it.”