New band and choir room facilities are a welcomed thought to Miami High School music teachers - as much for student safety as for anything else.
Band director Charles Beard and chorus teacher Ron Stowell are hoping that a Nov. 13 school bond election will be met with public support and a proposed $4.19 million multi-purpose facility will blossom from what is now only an artist's rendering.
The multi-purpose building will include a band room adjacent to the practice field, individual and ensemble practice rooms, offices and storage.
The chorus room will include a rehearsal hall, music library, ensemble and private practice rooms, offices and storage space.
Beard and Stowell are also looking forward to less risk to their students.
“The band and the chorus classed were housed in the rooms originally designed for the wrestling program,” Beard said. “It was supposed to be temporary, but we've been there for 38 years - ever since this building was built in 1969.”
The classes are below ground level and can only be reached by going down two flights of stairs with a 180-degree turn between the flights.
The danger comes in when the band students have to take their instruments up and down the stairs before and after every concert and ballgame.
The risers that are used at concerts are stored in the chorus classroom.
They must also be carried up and down the stairs for concerts.
“The risers weigh around 100 pounds each and are awkward, especially when turning the corner,” Stowell said. “It surprises me that we haven't had an accident with all the years and times we've had to move them.”
Stowell almost saw that accident happen recently when a riser slipped out of someone's hand, slid down the stairs and put a hole in the wall at the foot of the stairs.
“If someone had been standing down there Š,” Stowell said.
Without changes, the problem is getting worse instead of better.
“The band and chorus rooms are filled to overflowing and getting worse,” Beard said.
This year the band has 85 members and Beard anticipates it increasing by at least 13 members next year.
The chorus has several students who will perform with the all-district choir.
“It would be nice if we had some place where these students could practice,” Stowell said. “Right now the rehearsal rooms are being used for storage.”
Toye Harris, band teacher at Will Rogers Middle School, questions the pride the Miami High School students feel in their school.
“The Wardogs have nothing to call their own,” she said. “The football games and the basketball games are played elsewhere. The concerts and plays are performed elsewhere.
“When I return home and visit my high school, I can put to this or that as the place we won the game or the place we performed. Miami High School students can't do that. They have little to be proud of.”
Beard and Stowell agreed that improvements to Miami High School are not just an advantage to the students, but also to the community at large.
“When a business looks at moving to Miami, one of the first things they look at is the school system,” Stowell said. “If they look at Miami High School now they see a building where the gym doesn't come up to code, there aren't any lockers for the kids' bags, the band and chorus rooms are stuck under ground Š do they really want to come here?”
“Passing the bond issue and improving the high school building is a visible way of showing the community the school is something everyone is proud of,” Beard said.