WALSENBURG- Cleveland Clinton, who was hired last year to revitalize Re-1’s moribund music program, once the pride of Huerfano County, is in danger of facing the financial chopping block as Re-1 scrambles to save every nickel and dime.
It is ironic, because something wonderful is happening in Walsenburg next week. For the first time in years, Huerfano Re-1 will have instrumental and vocal spring concerts. The first one will be Tuesday May 13, at 6:30 pm in the Peakview gymnasium, when grades K through 3 will present their spring musical. On Thursday May 15, grades 4 through 6 and the newly organized John Mall High School Band will present their spring program, also at the Peakview gym at 6:30 pm.
Band Director Cleveland Clinton has been doing a terrific job in year one of Re-1’s newly revitalized music program. He has done it all with limited materials, no budget, and an extremely demanding schedule, teaching all Re-1 students from Kindergarten through 12th grade, alone, in three different schools.
Clinton has shaped the new John Mall High School Band into a well balanced group with all the voicings represented, except it is a little short on low brass. He has some players who came into the program with experience… for example a boy with several years of drum corp marching band from Pueblo County’s nationally known band program. Clinton also has students planning to major in music in college, like junior and bass guitarist, Jay Baker who is basically self taught except for two years in the Aguilar music program.
Doug Olson, another Pueblo transplant, is extremely motivated and dedicated. He has already done great things in percussion and has his own band that plays locally. Mallet percussionist Aubrey Lykin showed a strong natural ability for music as an elementary student in Walsenburg, and her family has been instrumental in getting music back into the Re-1 curriculum. She is happy to now be playing in her high school band and recapturing all that was unavailable to her for many years.
The band also has a core group of beginners who have always had an interest in music, and now have a place to develop that interest, including Megan Meadows, Vanessa Sanders, Uriah Garcia, Alexandria Tenorio, and Joshua Garcia. Home schooler and flutist Kristen Bressan is also participating in the John Mall band program. Music has been her first entry into the public school system.
Offering music education has made Re-1 a much more well rounded school, which benefits the students academically, and benefits the district financially. Families make decisions on where to locate, based on the quality, the reputation and the variety of programs offered at local schools. Music education is not a financial loss to the district. Given enough time to work, music education is a financial gain.
It is imperative that the music program at Peakview and John Mall be kept in place. Clinton and the students are to be congratulated on this fine first year, and must be given a chance for an encore.