EDITOR’S NOTE: During the past three months, The Ardmoreite has conducted a series of interviews to identify some of the issues that exist within Ardmore City Schools. This week, a series of articles will focus on some of the issues based on interviews with former and current administration, school board members, former teachers, and concerned citizens.
Those close to the Ardmore High School band program have seen a resurgence in the past several years.
Since hiring Ardmore native Chauvin Aaron in 2011, the program has made significant strides in both numbers and talent.
But with the recent resignation of Aaron, who is taking a job at O’Banion Middle School in Garland, Texas, the band is looking for a new leader. And while the show must go on, there is regret a young man seen as a leader in the community will grow in his profession outside of Ardmore.
“It’s a big loss,” says Dr. Barbara Dunn, president of the Ardmore Band Boosters. “It is going to be extremely difficult for our program to pick up and move on. The real sense of loss is this is a person who has been a member of our community, born and raised here. Those kinds of things are hard to come by.
“It is very tragic when we lose someone so well connected. A lot of growth in our program has been attributed to him. He is very loved by the students.”
Dunn said she expects the program will be able to move forward, but there will be hurdles to attract another leader similar to Aaron.
“I think, as a rule, it is not a major hurdle,” Dunn said. “The kids are great, there is some continuity and they are very helpful. In theory, band directors change. It will be difficult, but I am very enthusiastic about our high school principal.
“Will it be difficult? Yes, because of what is happening now at the level of the board and the administration.”
Dunn said the difficulties remain consistent in efforts to advocate for the kids with a voice that is not heard. She also said there is consistent unprofessional treatment of school employees, which results in people leaving.
“That is a problem in our school system, period,” she said. “It is a flagrant problem. If you can’t see that, then you shouldn’t be there. If half of my staff walked out at one time, I would take a serious look at what is going on.”
In a letter to band members and supporters, Aaron offered thanks for his experience as the high school band director.
“For the past three years, the students, parents and community have been very supportive of this band program and me,” he wrote. “I could not ask for a better support system and close group of friends. Thank you, I have been truly blessed. In the future, I hope you will continue to support the new director and this wonderful program.”
The person hired to replace Aaron will have one assistant rather than two. Former high school principal Kim Holland said the administration chose to send a check back to the Westheimer Foundation that would have funded a position for this upcoming school year. In turn, the school system would have had to fund the position in the following school year.
“I love coach (Doug) Wendel, and I love all our assistant coaches,” Holland said. “But we can hire another coach and can’t provide an assistant for the band.”
Dunn was also disappointed in the administration’s decision not to provide support for the band program.
“It is disappointing for the growth of the program, the number of kids and teaching music,” she said. “It would be so much more beneficial to the children to have three people. The one we lost is a percussionist, which is so much different from other teaching. It is unfortunate the administration does not see it as a necessity. It will make the new person’s job very difficult.
“I don’t see us being able to get a grant given the way the foundations have been treated by the board and administration. The band is so much more competitive now than where they were. In Chauvin’s first year at contest, they were embarrassed, and it is so much better now.”
Ardmore City Schools Assistant Superintendent Missy Storm said the terms of a contract attached to the grant made it impossible for the school to accept the funding. She also said she has visited with several band parents regarding the situation.
“There was an understanding we would have funding for more than one year,” Storm said. “Mr. Aaron had worked diligently with the foundation for the funding. There were terms that we could not agree to. It would pay for one year and we would have to pick up the position the next year. We can’t encumber finances for the next year other than the school superintendent. Everything else goes year to year.”
Storm said the position had been filled when this took place, and the position was picked up by general funds, which the school could not afford.”
In the Thursday edition of The Ardmoreite, details are revealed about issues surrounding a band trip to New York City, which ended up costing $150 more per band member.