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Twenty years ago, a bond measure was passed that was responsible for the creation of a dedicated music wing at McNary High School. This new music wing included new, spacious rehearsal areas for both band and choir. However, the intended orchestra room was inadequate for the needs of four full orchestras now in the program, and will only increase in size as the next generation of string musicians come in. The “Ensemble Room” has unfortunately been relegated to being only a storage space for instruments and a practice room for small groups, because of the size of each of the four ensembles.
Consequently, the orchestra program has resorted to sharing space in the dedicated choir room, but the choir program has more than 250 students that often come and go during instructional time. This has created issues with both the choir and the orchestra interrupting each other’s rehearsals. Not only do they share a space with one another during the school day, but the room is often overbooked by multiple ensembles for their rehearsals, section practices, and faculty meetings after school.
Additionally, preparing the choir room rehearsals everyday means setting up music stands and chairs, as well as tearing down after practice, which takes up precious class time. This issue has also been responsible for the delay of the next class that takes place in the room and often causes students to be rushing to their next class.
One choir student, Camryn Ronnow, stated that “Having to share the choir room with the orchestra students has resulted in many conflicts regarding space. Every period that there isn’t a choir class there is an orchestra class, limiting growth for both departments. Having an orchestra room would benefit both the choir and orchestra departments and allow for more students to be involved in the programs which is the ultimate goal here at McNary High School.”
The choir teacher, Joshua Rist, agrees. “Right now our ability to grow is capped by the limited space. I’m happy to share my room with a colleague as generous and kind as Mr. Williams, but both programs can’t grow when all the periods are used up by ensembles.”
The orchestra program would not be the only recipient that would benefit from an orchestra room. Having another room in the music wing specifically meant for the orchestra program is very important for future students and their parents. It will benefit students and staff in the other music departments, as well.
Nicholas Weathers said, “If there was an added Orchestra room then everyone in the music department would have more space to practice, and use more space efficiently, to overall get a lot better and just be fantastic!”
McNary and the Salem-Keizer school district take pride in their excellent music programs. Performances and after-school events bring the community together. A new room for the orchestra will improve the music education for the future generations of musicians. It seems right for an orchestra that placed in the top five at state to have their own room at McNary. This coming Monday, Nov. 13th, at McNary High School is an opportunity for people to listen and contribute to discussions that can change the community. Starting at 6 p.m. Monday evening is a meeting to propose what can be done with the money that the bond promises for our district. Already on the table are new science classrooms and extra parking space. We believe that the community should be informed of this chance, and implore anyone with strong faith in the cultural prosperity of Salem-Keizer to attend and share their thoughts.
The McNary Orchestra