We’re Seniors Too

2/28/14, 1pm UPDATE: In the past 50+ hours of this blog post going live, it has exploded like wildfire. This is my fault. I have encouraged people to share this blog on social media across Facebook, Twitter, etc. I originally thought I would get at best a 100 or so views. I wasn’t expecting the fast approaching 20,000 hits it has received so far. As the page view count grew so did my passion for this area and my desire to see it grow more.

As it has grown, I have received messages from all over the US expressing support and solidarity. I have also been told stories that break my heart about schools like this. These stories, coming out of Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, and others, continue to show that this is a subject which has touched off a lot of people. I have seen, in the very comments here, posts that I would consider bullying in nature, from fellow students and from parents. For that reason, I’m LOCKING THE COMMENTS SECTION DOWN and removing the sharing options. I’m sorry I have to be doing this, but I feel that it is for the students safety.

I have heard from fellow members of the senior class who played in the band that disagree with my statements and the facts as they were presented to me. I have invited them to share their thoughts.

I am also changing many aspects of this article, I’m removing the name of the town and the names of the students, from both the article and the comments section. I have also removed the original picture. This is for the students own safety and for their future.

I am also removing ALL contact links to the school in question.

I never imagined that this story would take off as it has, I never imagined it would become the juggernaut that it has become.

Thank you all for standing up for these two students. I am proud of what I wrote, I am proud of them. They are my heroes for taking an unpopular stand that they felt was right. #WeAreSeniorsToo

-Everett Robert
Emergency Room Productions
Feb. 28, 2014
1pm

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I want to take you to Smalltown, KS located on the wild plains of western Kansas. The population is less than 1,500 people. It may be hard to believe that towns this size exist, but I assure you, they do.

I know about this town because my first two plays were performed there. In fact, I completed the script to that show less than a block away from the high school. I’ve eaten lunch there, performed there, lived there for three months. It’s a town I dearly love, but at the moment, I’m saddened by.

In a town that small, I’m sure you can imagine how small the school is. According to http://www.high-schools.com, total enrollment at Smalltown High is 166. Of those 166 students, 36 are seniors. Tonight, Feb 25, 2014, was their last home basketball game of the season.

In many schools across the state and the nation, the last home game is often recognized as “Senior Night.” I’ve seen it at high school football games, basketball games, etc. It’s a chance for the coaches, faculty, parents and fans to cheer and recognize the hard-working athletes, cheerleaders, sports managers in their last home game. There are two young people I know who are Smalltown High School seniors. But they are not part of “the team”, they are members of the band. And tonight, at their last home game as pep band members they did not get recognized alongside their classmates.

And here’s the kicker, they were promised they would be recognized and then that offer was rescinded. They were told they COULD be recognized at their spring concert. Which, according to one of the students, has “minimum to no attendance” and which she has “never seen” happen. So what did these brave students do? They stood up and made themselves recognized.

Let me put this out here right now, I have no problems with sports. I think sports have their place in high schools as much as music, theater, and the arts. As I’m typing this, I’m wearing a tee-shirt recognizing a Big 12 collegiate team, a hoodie from an area high school, and a Major League baseball cap. I got to sporting events. I even played sports for a little while in middle school and in high school.

But what I do have a problem with is athletes getting greater recognition then others. Whether they be players, managers or cheerleaders, they are NOT more important than their classmates who work just as hard, put in as many hours, with none of the glory and recognition. I fear and feel that this brings forth a culture of entitlement that carries on into later adulthood.

Do you want to know what this band and their members have done for Smalltown High School? From One of the band members,

 We have played pep band since sixth grade, long before the seniors who were recognized tonight played on that court, before the cheerleaders wore those uniforms, before the managers worked with the coaches. I have never ridden on a class float during the homecoming parade, because I have always marched. I have played in half times at college football games. I have taken music to contests and played in honor bands. I have played with Dallas Brass. I’ve played jazz band on top of a mountain in Aspen at a ski resort.

These band members were ambassadors for their school, but more than that, they were torchbearers and played as important a role in athletics as the athletes on the field or the court. In Biblical times, musicians often preceded the armies into battle and in beginning in the 16th century in Europe, armies would often have a drum and fife player who would play uplifting music to encourage the troops, as well as be used to convey orders. What is the purpose of a high school pep band but to uplift and encourage the crowd of spectators and the athletes. They work in conjunction with cheerleaders often times.

I’m writing about this, not because these students are friends of mine (although they are-they were part of my original show in Smalltown), not because I’m disappointed in a school or a town (although I am), but because this is symptomatic of our culture. We like to separate the “jocks” from the “geeks”. We like to pigeonhole and ghettoize groups of people. We place a disproportionate amount of praise on our student athletes while marginalizing and ignoring our student artists. I graduated high school almost 20 years ago, from a much larger high school, and felt the same thing. Student artists get the shaft while student athletes get the praise. I had hoped that our society had progressed beyond that.

I’ve blogged about this before, but it bears repeating; arts in education is vital to making our country better. Studies have “found that learning music facilitates learning other subjects and enhances skills that children inevitably use in other areas. “A music-rich experience for children of singing, listening and moving is really bringing a very serious benefit to children as they progress into more formal learning,” says Mary Luehrisen, executive director of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation, a not-for-profit association that promotes the benefits of making music.” (PBS, 2013). And according to Fran Smith in a 2009 article on Edutopia, the website of The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF), “Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork.”

Smith goes on to cite a 2005 Rand Corporation study which states, “can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing,” meaning, basically, the arts can make a person’s life BETTER because they [the arts] are sweetening that person’s life, causing them to create closer social connections and bonds.

Music education can help with verbal skills, increase IQ, develop Spatial-Temporal skills. The brain works harder, causing increased test scores. Theater education can help with social anxiety and confidence, art education helps with motor skills and decision-making. The studies are out there for those who want to look.

Art Education plays a vital role and instead of ignoring those students, instead of promising something and then revoking it, the Smalltown School District (and by default ALL schools) should be CELEBRATING our student artists.

I can’t do much, but I can applaud these Senior students and I can write about this.

If you wish to join the discussion use the hashtag it #Weareseniorstoo so I can track it.

If you know of other stories like this, contact me via Twitter or my Facebook page and I’ll continue to bring this life. It’s time we took a cue from these Smalltown students and take a stand.

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99 comments

  1. What a shame that the adult “leaders” at **** **** High School have set such a poor example. Kudos to ****** and ***** for all their hard work and for standing up for themselves. They have added greatly to the atmosphere at the games and learned skills that will benefit them for a lifetime. Kudos to you for making this public.

    Edited by site admin. to remove names

  2. How sad! I too was a music kid in school. I came from a musical family also. Played piano starting at 5yrs of age, and was a twirler for band. Music has always been important in my life, and will continue to be the same. Hats off to these young people for standing up for their cause!! School officials should be ashamed!

  3. One thing that you all may not know is that there are multiple senior nights at **** **** High. There is a senior night on the last home basketball game for basketball players, there is a senior night on the last home football game for football players, there is a senior night for the last home match for wrestlers, so on and so forth. As far as I have been informed, the band has never had a “home game” so to speak such as a concert or performance where they could be respectfully recognized. I think one needs to get all the facts before making small schools like this look unrespectful.

    1. Jordan, and how many of those 36 seniors play football and basketball? Or are cheerleaders and basketball players?

      You say yourself that “As far as I have been informed, the band has never had a “home game” so to speak such as a concert or performance where they could be respectfully recognized.” So, are you saying that senior student artists are not recognized at all for their contributions? Or did you mean something else?

      But it doesn’t matter if there are multiple senior nights are not, when a school recognizes seniors that aren’t just players (including cheerleaders and managers) then they need to recognize ALL seniors that help make the games what they are (including pep band members who are at every home game and help create the atmosphere).

      But more then that, if a school promises senior band members that they will be recognized but then revokes that, they need to be exposed and called out. Especially if they are non-committal to giving their senior artists a night to be recognized.

      It’s a matter of respecting all the seniors student artists who have been a part of the game night atmosphere, who have contributed to the team, who have supported the school and the team, and who have served as ambassadors for the school and the community in places where the team(s) wouldn’t.

      1. I thought about this more last night, and I fully anticipated that someone would voice a defensive stance about “multiple” and separate acknowledgments and events, etc., which Jordan has pointed out here. Sure, I’m sure that happens.

        But look. IF you are going to acknowledge someone or something, it stands to reason to do it before an audience, and, the larger the audience the better — that makes it truly “acknowledged.” That game was not at all an inappropriate venue to acknowledge some contributing seniors other than the athletes only.

        Personally, I designed and painted run-throughs for all the HCHS games — I did. Was I ever really formally acknowledged for that? NO! Have any idea how many hours we spent making those run-throughs? I also played in the pep band and marching band up until my senior year, when I finally quit band in frustration for all the time spent in service to athletics, service that was always expected — long hours, long nights too — and never much acknowledged. It’s not fun to be used like that. I mean it — USED.

        It would not have been inappropriate to have acknowledged these students. Not at all. It was inappropriate NOT TO, and that was Everett’s point. Before an ample audience such gestures show high respect, and, frankly, it is simply a standard public relations best practice to acknowledge contributors before a large audience already gathered. Public relations — I have been in that line of work,professionally, since 1987, most of that time for three major universities.

        I’m glad Everett wrote this. About time someone did. People feeling unduly disenfranchised is a PR problem, you bet. I graduated magna cum laude in studio art from Bethany College, and later went into communications and PR/marketing studies and work in that field. I have seen this inept kind of thing too many times, believe me. I believe it shows bias, whether it is done deliberately or not. Perception is reality, as we in the business say.

        Face it. Small schools, in fact all schools, are sometimes disrespectful, even inadvertently. They could do better, and they should. The arts get short shrift enough anyway. You think things like this public snubbing help? No sir. And therein lies the real disrespect. The criticism was deserved, I think. It’s about time someone said something akin to “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Everett was more diplomatic than I would have been, in fact.

      2. Recognizing senior managers is different because managers are part if the team. Also, in western kansas cheerleading doesn’t have any activities outside of the games and therefore the only proper place to recognize them is at the game of senior night. I’m from Norton, 30 miles up the road and Norton recognizes the band seniors at the end of the year concert. Also, I was a four year member of the band, even got a 1 at state festival my senior year. I was also a varsity football player, wrestler, and did track. In my opinion the best place to recognize the band is at their end of the year concert. The common theme here for senior night is that the seniors are recognized at their activities last home game/event. For the band that event is the spring concert. In Norton that concert was always very well attended and I think it’s sad that apparently it isn’t in **** ****. While I really don’t think it’s a big deal one way or another, and I do think it was wrong for the administration to retract their original plan to recognize the seniors at the basketball game, the fact of the matter is that it is still a basketball game and the basketball seniors should be recognized since it is their last home event. The time to recognize the band is at their senior concert, which is their last event. The fact that the concert isn’t well attended shouldn’t be a factor here. Again, it’s sad that the concert isn’t well attended, but that should not be the grounds for must having to do it during the basketball game. Further, pep band is not a separate event from concert band. Again, as a four year band member I understand how it works and they are not different. Yes the songs are different and the volume is different, but if you’re in band you’re in pep band and vice versa. Therefore we shouldn’t draw the distinction and again, the proper place to recognize the band is at their concert, which should even be better for the band since that is where they take center state as opposed to being a sideshow like at sporting events. I apologize for spelling and grammar, I am doing this on my phone.

    2. I am from a small town VERY close to **** ****. You say they don’t have a “home game,” but THEY DID. They played at their last home football game and their last home basketball game. When you do a senior night, you are recognizing the seniors for their efforts through the years to get them where they are now, but you are also recognizing that this is the last time he or she will play on the court/field at a home game. Well this was the last time those seniors would perform in those stands on both of those nights. Really, it isn’t about why they didn’t do it; it’s about how easy it would have been to do that–one more flower handed to the parents and one more minute of the announcers time. Something so simple to show gratitude for their time and efforts should have been done. NO EXCUSE!

      1. Exactly! And you know what? Those band parents give as much of their personal time and money to get their kids to those games and practices as the parents of the athletes. (How many parents had to go pick up their band kids because there wasn’t an activity bus to take them home, even though there was one for the athletes?) Both the parents and those musicians who put in all that hard work deserve the recognition. To those saying that they should get recognition at an end of the year concert, it’s a nice thought, but the audience at most of those performances is not the same makeup as those attending games. It’s rather insulting and a snub.

    3. Hey, Jordan, as the Morgan in the story above I would just like to say, Yes, their are multiple Senior nights at our school for every sport, but every year, excluding this year, the senior pepband members have been recognized at the basketball game.
      Yes, we are having a concert later this year, but pepband is a lot different that concert band, one I always play mezzo-piano so I do not over power the band, and for pepband I’m told to play fortissimo. It is a separate entity and should be treated as such, just like (American) football and rugby.
      I can not tell you how many times I have traveled to go and support the sports when they reach higher levels of play with my fellow band members, how many hours I have practiced the music since we have several songs that are newly added to the pepband list each year and our concert songs, or how many times I have taken off from work or come to school sick to proudly join the pepband as we play. If you don’t believe that I should get the same respect that band members have gotten in years past, then that is what you think, you’re entitled to your opinion.
      So, if you would like to tell others to get their facts straight, you should do the same.

      1. I rarely – almost never – post to something like this, but let’s get the story straight. For many MANY years, senior musicians and school musical participants have been recognized at the end-of-year dinner theater. I know that, because I was the one responsible for writing the scripts, ordering the flowers, sending the letters home to parents, and making the presentations. When there was no dinner theater, it was done at the spring music program. I majored in music, certainly have a strong appreciation for the arts, and am very thankful for the wonderful support all of our sports teams get from the musicians. Those musicians deserve their own night, in their own venue – and that’s exactly what they have been getting. Perhaps our time would be better spent thanking those who take the time, make the effort, and spend the money to ensure that recognition.

      2. Becky let me be the first to say thank you for the hard work you and others have done. I have been on that side of the stage and know the work that goes into all that. It IS hard work and you should be commended for it.

        Now imagine that you were doing a show, say MacBeth, and you needed several men to stage the final attack. They would be in that one scene and have no lines. Say you go to the football or basketball team players who maybe aren’t in the show already and ask them to do it. They volunteer their time and evenings to help the show out.

        Now would you deny them a curtain call? Would you not give them flowers or put their name in the program or something similar? I believe you wouldn’t do that, that you would give them equal respect and acknowledgement. Shouldn’t our student musicians get the same respect from the athletics side and be acknowledged on senior night alongside the others that add so much to a game night atmosphere?

  4. My two cents: in a school this small (like where I grew up, and where I currently teach), kids are part of multiple groups. Kids who are basketball players are also cheerleaders/are also in band/are also in art/are also in track. etc, ad nauseum. However, those whose sole participation is pep band (or cheer, whatever) should be recognized. As I recall, in my western Kansas tiny high school, we were honored for being in the pep band on senior night during basketball. Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t senior night really for the parents, anyway?

  5. Interesting blog & I agree all graduating Seniors involved with any activity deserve recognition. I am a proud 1988 graduate of **** **** High School. Go Ringnecks! I played flute all four years in high school, sang in vocal music & the special singing group and I did not participate in sports. At our Spring Band concert of my senior year which was held in the front lawn of the school where the attendance was amazing, I stood with my fellow senior band members & was recognized. Seniors even walked out together of the last song, typically the school song, to applause from the audience. I have great memories of that day & of my time at **** **** High School. If your facts are correct in that the students were promised recognition that night but the offer was rescinded, that is a shame. As a student in that school, I never felt that athletics were more important than other activities such as band, vocal music, theatre or art. The school & the community supported the youth. Thank you for writing about **** **** & thank you for visiting & being involved with our community. I still have family living there & will always be proud of the community.

    1. Thanks for sharing your memories! Re: promises made. That is what the students told me. IF they were wrong or I was wrong or the administration has an explination (say a time penelty [I’ve heard of this happening, don’t approve of it, but have heard of it]), I would gladly post a statement reflecting that.

  6. I was a band geek all through high school and into college, choir as well … I am from a small town in AZ that is about 1200 people and graduated with a class of 55, our eldest son attended public school in KS with a graduating class of about 100 and was active in drama, singers/choir, and forensics — at both places on Senior night we were both recognized along side the athletes. If this is the case it is TOTALLY a choice by the school administration and music/drama/fine arts/forensics teachers who aren’t going to bat for their students! There is no reason they can’t all be recognized.

  7. My son stopped doing sports in jr hi but continued band through his senior yr. He attended a small hi school in a town of less then 2200 people. The band was recognized on senior night of football season along with the football players and cheerleaders. It does not take that much to add them in and acknowledge all seniors.

  8. Having also been from this tiny little town that I’ve loved and hated over the years and having been big into band I don’t recall ever being left out either. The fact that this transpired may be a “sign of the times” as I do get frustrated with the emphasis in todays world but I also believe that had it been tried in the “old’n” days – our parents as well as fellow students, friends and community would have rally’d to make the right thing happen. I saw it happen many times “back then” – it really does take a village. Standing up, speaking out, it is up to ALLLLL of us! Go RINGNECKS!

  9. It was basketball Senior night – the senior basketball players were to be recognized. I sat behind the drums in that corner for four years at every home basketball game and never once thought I should be recognized alongside the basketball players on their night. I was recognized on wrestling senior night (for wrestling!) and us senior band members were recognized at the Spring concert – which I also remember being well attended! You have to create your own spotlight people, not try to steal others! If they have done away with the Spring concert – bring it back! Help promote it. Most of all stop whining!

    1. Dave, it is my understanding that cheerleaders and managers were recognized on this particular senior night as well. If the “support staff” (for lack of a better term) was honored then the pep band seniors should have been as well. If it was JUST the basketball players that were honored and that was made clear upfront, then I would have no issues. But as I said, it was my understanding that basketball players, managers, and cheerleaders were honored and the band members weren’t (despite being promised that they were).

      I don’t view this as whining, but rather asking that they quit being ignored and marginalized despite supporting and honoring and helping the team and cheerleaders throughout the year.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  10. I cannot speak for **** **** but the high school I attend, Wallace County High School in Sharon Springs, KS, represents the entire senior class on “Senior night.” I’m actually shocked to think that other schools do not do the same. The audience at that basketball game actually triples in size because those that don’t participate in basketball come to be recognized for their accomplishments through out their high school career. Maybe **** **** will do the same now. I hope they so.

  11. I participated in debate and forensics for all four years in high school and participated in much larger events than our state winning football team. I participated and brought home trophies from the national level (a task none of the sports at my school had completed) and in my six years since I’ve graduated I have never found a time in my life in which not getting my “senior night” has effected my life. You don’t participate in band or debate or any of the other arts for recognition. You do it because you enjoy the activity and obviously see some benefit that you gain. I’m sorry if your high school was ruined because your school didn’t call your name for your participation in band, but you ended with the ultimate honor you can receive, hearing your name called on graduation day. That’s the goal of high school and anything else you brought out of high school from the activities you participated in are for your personal gain and benefit, not for the recognition that someone else needs to provide.

    1. I first want to point out that **** **** High is not my alma mater, but I have spent quite a bit of time there in the past 5 years and have a strong connection to this community.

      I agree with you that hearing your name called at graduation is more important then on a Senior night and that no one should get into the arts for personal recognition. However, when a school chooses to honor it’s student athletes (including cheerleaders) but not it’s musicians who have helped create an exciting atmosphere at every home game, who support their school and their team, then a spotlight needs to be shined on that school for their discrimination and favoritism.

  12. This is nothing new. I played in the pep band at HCHS for four years and never missed one football game, basketball game, even those games at post-season tournaments. Fellow students received recognition for any number of non-academic accomplishments but attendance in the pep band wasn’t a priority 25+ years ago and it apparently isn’t now either.

      1. I just read Katie’s post below. Apparently not much has changed in terms of what programs are considered more important: sports participation or academic or artistic achievement. For some reason simply participating in a sport is deemed more important than equal participation in the Arts. Sadly she has also seen that unless a student’s father is the owner of one of a particular handful of businesses, or holds some other subjective title in the community, then that student shouldn’t expect any amount of hard work to result in much recognition from the school.

  13. As the person who originally posted this to Facebook, I have a few things to add. In the past, the arts were more respected at HCHS. However, sports have become the main focus. There are multiple senior nights, but I have only seen a handful of senior band members recognized. Basketball games are the only time I have ever seen them recognized. When this has happened, the ones recognized were often children of faculty. I have never missed a Christmas program or a Spring program, and not once have I seen a senior band member recognized at a concert. Sports have taken over. There are many examples of this just from my experiences since fifth grade. When our basketball team made it to state my eighth grade year, money that we had raised ourselves was taken out of the band account to pay for hotel rooms for the basketball players. Despite this, the band still made the three hour trip several days in a row, getting home at ungodly hours in the morning and having to leave early the next morning once again, to play pep band for our team. While new sports uniforms are routinely purchased, band uniforms have not been replaced for nearly a decade. When band uniforms are dry cleaned, it comes out of the band teacher’s pocket. We are rarely given the go ahead to purchase new music. Teams are often not supportive when we perform our half time shows. But through all the wins and loses, we have been there supporting our teams and never expecting support back in our endeavors. There is a policy enacted to only allow three tardies before missing the next school activity. While this rule is strictly enforced among our band members (and we are often told that we cannot play in the pep band at the very end of the school day or when we arrive at the game), it often slides among those in sports when there is a game coming up. I’ve seen this happen on several occasions. As a band member, I have experienced opposition and been disregarded and disrespected through my entire high school career just because I did not participate in sports. After being told that we would be recognized and then having the opportunity taken away, I decided to make it known among the crowd. I will absolutely own up to that sign being my idea. I stood proudly in front of the band with my fellow senior band mate that could come to the game and played my last pep band of my high school career. My only intention was to bring attention to the disregard for our dedication in a subtle way, and I believe that I accomplished that.

    1. Katie, if you would like I can copy and paste this as a new blog or you can write something more in depth and I’ll post it too.

      Or we can conduct an interview style blog via email or facebook with you and Morgan. Or any of number of things. Thank you so much for bringing this to attention via facebook and for shedding more light on this issue.

    2. Thank you Katie, I agree with you fully… I am just not very good with typing out things… Or thinking them through d: I’m more of a spontaneous speaker 😀

      Love,
      Morgan “Hesus” M.

      1. Thank you! I just wanted to see how accurate the screenshot I was sent was. I didn’t see the post in question, but wanted to confirm. I also heard that he had been doing this for years and it was well deserved. Thank you so much for replying.

      2. As to Sara’s post Mr. Den Reynolds DID in FACT recognize the senior band students. He asked how many seniors there are in band, the response was five, three at the game last night even though just two are pictured. Mr. Reynolds congratulated the seniors and let them play on.

  14. Although I do agree with what is being said, I really wish the article would have been proofread before publishing! It might be taken more seriously by people who could make a difference if there weren’t so many grammatical/spelling errors!

    1. Julie, I spell checked this several times and just did so again. I saw some hyphenates that were missing and a couple examples of using then instead of than. I’ve fixed those. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  15. First off Cheerleaders are athletes. You put them in some middle group, with the managers, between athletes and band members. Second, members of activities should be recognized in their respected area. I mean that the band members should be recognized at their band concert. It is not sports fault if attendance is low or the director chooses not too. But I do think being recognized at the end of the pep band season is really awesome idea. Also all seniors get recognized, and praised, at graduation. Don’t make every end of season activities a mini graduation where you recognize everyone. Thirdly, the braking of the promise to these seniors is what I find most upsetting in this story. If it is promised, follow up. It is not that hard.

    1. I do understand that cheerleaders are athletes, but they are not the focus athlete at a basketball game correct? They are there to cheer on and support the basketball players as I understand it. Just like the pep band is there to cheer on and support the basketball team. They are both there to help create an environment, an atmosphere, and an excitement. If it was JUST the basketball players who were recognized, I don’t believe this would have been an issue, but when you recognize and acknowledge those students who aren’t basketball players, at a basketball game (such as basketball managers, wrestling managers, and cheerleaders) who take their evenings off and their time off the hone their craft and learn, then you should also acknowledge the pep band members who do the EXACT SAME THING.

      I agree that graduation is the most important acknowledgement of the year, but the school chooses to have a “Seniors Night” at the last home football game, the last home basketball game, the last home wrestling match,etc. then they need to make sure that all those students who are these events on a regular basis (including pep band, cheerleaders, and managers–even dance team) should be recognized. If it is good enough for some, it’s good enough for all.

      I don’t think I blamed sports themselves anywhere in my blog for band’s low attendance. I did point out though that band concerts are regularly poorly attended (according to what I heard from one of the students in question). I agree. Sports in and of itself is not to blame. But when we treat our student athletes different then our student artists, it fosters a culture of entitlement that can be harmful for all involved.

      I’m glad to see that we agree though, that if promises were made, promises should have been kept.

  16. I studied art in high school &.college so I understand cliques in school. It was wrong of the district to tell the band members they would regognize them and take it away. However, if these students want to get recognized at a basketball game why not go out for basketball? Did they get recognized at the senior night during football?

    1. As I’ve mentioned several times, if the school was only recognizing basketball players, it would be one thing, but when they recognize cheerleaders and managers (wrestling and basketball) then the pep band, who contributes so much to games, should have been recognized as well.

  17. Our school also has “Senior Night”, but EVERY senior boy and girl, regardless of what sport or activity they are involved in (or not), gets recognized! It shows appreciation to the seniors for their efforts put forth on behalf of the school and puts a little ‘spotlight’ on their achievements and future plans! I think it’s a great idea, and I’m glad we stay away from recognizing only those involved in ‘specific activities’!!

  18. As a HCHS grad, I do remember when I had senior night as a pep band member. They recognized us on the court like everyone else. there’s no reason for this to change year to year. Hickle and Stein are going to have to live up to this and I hope someone asks questions about it.

  19. And also let us compare high school to college. All college band members are recognized at their respective senior nights.

  20. I am also from small town Kansas and I have been to many senior nights at my own school and other schools. I have been watching people play basketball since I was young, I played and I still watch the local high school teams. I have never been to a senior night where they only included the basketball players in the acknowledgment. **** **** is a good place, but they should re-evaluate senior night.

  21. Way too much energy,, money and time is invested into all high school sports by my feelings. What percent of sports investment is carried onward into adult life other than some long term limp,, morning pains,, or other life long damage? From what I can count on my fingers amounts to less than 2% ever go onward past high school sports and do anything with a ball other than hold it while watching TV later on in life..

    I had a real good friend growing up who invested his entire grade school and high school years into sports and due to the fact he did not make the grade with his tryouts in the big leagues,, ended up as a drunk and a drug addict. So my views are a little more personal with my feelings towards sports overall than most people might have. He was a wonderful person,, great always in great shape, but missed out on an entire lifetime for the missed dream he was programmed to believed and was told he had a chance at..

    I watched some parents extend themselves as if there kids are again themselves from many years before and again back on the field or gym floor. I have seen hostile rejection of a son or daughter after a game for the bad performance night. For what a ballgame? I watched a local coach call my 2 sons pussy;s since they did not play any sports.. But let me tell you,, both of them logged 1000s of tractor and combine hours night after night and still made it too school the next day without ever a whimper.

    I feel bad about the band members who much like anyone in sports played onward into the night, or all weekend long to master the next level with there interments and not even getting a nod from the crowd is sad.. But mostly I feel bad for the kids in sports over all as it is a game and nothing more,, and was meant to have fun doing and learn how to work as a team and nothing more.

    I have watched couches hammer kids and yell and scream as if they had a 1 million dollar contract on the line,.. Its just a game,, for kids to have fun and burn off some extra energy,, that’s all.

    You can continual to play on with your musical instrument long into your graying years and enjoy the sounds of the music you can make. Most people who invested in sports can only tell you a few glory stories from 50 years ago,, Your rewards are yet to come..

    Sodbust

  22. This is a well written and fantastic piece. I grew up and attended another MCL school near **** **** – Phillipsburg. 4 years of Pep Band/Marching Band/Concert Band, Forensics, Theatre, Scholars’ Bowl, Debate, …the list of nerdy and arts-based experiences that I participated in goes on and on. And I detested senior night at our basketball and football games more than any other night. Here’s why: Tom goes out for Football and gets to stand there with mommy and daddy and get his 15 minutes of adulation in October. Then, Tom goes out for Basketball, and again, mommy and daddy are so proud as he stands center court for another 15 minutes of sports adulation. And let’s say, for the sake of being a well rounded student in a small school, that when he’s not being super sport boy, Tom also plays saxophone in the concert band. Again, at the spring concert, Tom stands up for Senior night and his recognition…as well as the other seniors, who were in the marching band and the pep band (each one of which is it’s own type of music and skill set, just like football, basketball, and soccer are three different sports). The inequity has always bothered me.

    There was no senior recognition night for Scholars’ Bowl…not even the year that we finally made it to State for the first time in the school’s history. There was no senior night for debate…or for theatre…or for forensics…or for the students who kicked ass at art. They got NOTHING.

    And they worked just as hard as any student athlete.

    I commend these students for TAKING their Senior night. GOOD FOR THEM! I wish I’d done it in ’99. And shame on a school that would deny the rightful recognition of any accomplished student.

  23. When I was in high school in Stockton, all senior girls were eligible to be selected as Homecoming royalty candidates, however, only senior boys who were members of the football team were allowed to be nominated. Gotta love small-town politics.

    1. Even better! I graduated from HSHC last year, and two of my friends (both rather artsy and rather disdainful of sports) who were dating at the time were told that they were nominated for Homecoming royalty, but their names were discarded because one of my friends wasn’t in football. One of our friends who helped count the votes told us and it kind of makes you wonder; how many times have they done this in the past?

  24. I attended a small rural school in MN (graduation class of 40). I now teach at that same school. Athletics (which I love and support) get too much recognition in all communities. Like someone else mentioned, many of our students are involved in many activities, but sports still take the spotlight. As for senior nights…I feel that in our area they are WAY overdone. Besides the recognition, there are posters, special programs, and the parents get the student athletes gifts. Really? Good for the kids for working hard and being part of a team, but that and the experiences from it should be reward enough. My own kids are in both athletics and music programs, but I still see every day how we glorify athletes and do not put the same importance on other areas. Senior recognition is one other way that we blow things up bigger than they need to be.

  25. I grew up near Smith Center and, as you know, sports are huge. Music, art, not so much. It’s sad, but true. All we can do is support our kids interests and, perhaps, celebrate them some other way. I’m sure that lots of parents and kids will be brainstorming now!

  26. What a bunch of whining crybabies all of you are. Big deal! Sum band kids didnt get their name called at a basketball game! OMG the world is ending! Who cares! Guess what? Life is dull of disappointments! GROW UP!

  27. At our small school, just about an hour away from **** **** we honor every senior and their parents at the last home basketball game. The reason being, it’s inside, the crowd is able to hear and to see the individuals better, and pictures are easier to take. As the parents and their senior are introduced, they walk out on the court as a list is being read over the PA system of all their accomplishments in the last four years and their years of participation in those activities being announced to the crowd. This has always been a special night for every senior and the parents, and one that is looked forward to ( and dreaded a little by mom and dad) as a highlight of their high school years. It’s worked well for us, and to my knowledge there has never been a complaint, and no one feels left out.

  28. Absolutely right. I never even thought of recognizing pep band during basketball season, but it makes perfect sense. I have worked for a similarly sized school on the east side of the state for 7 years now. Every time an athlete signs a letter of intent, even if it is to a two-year school, every high school student is allowed to leave class and watch the signing and partake of the inevitable free cake. Great tradition, but it would be nice when one of our other students earns a scholarship for academics or arts that we would do the same.

  29. I am from Colby, KS, just a spit away from **** ****. I used to compete in forensics against these two. Proud of them for making a stand! I’m afraid the arts are lost in many, many schools. In Colby, sports are the only things that matter. I didn’t play sports, but I spent just as much time and energy playing in the bands. You say it’s not that hard to play in marching band? Let me tell you about 8 AM practice every day in September and October. Just barely above freezing with dew on the grass to make our feet soaking wet and freezing cold. Then we sat in the stands and cheered our boys on, and even marched in the snow a few times. Pep band? That was an all day activity for us by the time we had to haul all of our equipment across town. Not to mention trying to balance working on the pep band songs AND our concert/competition pieces!

    I give Colby credit though, I think they have about the best solution for senior night. All seniors participating in an activity get recognized at the last home game of the biggest athletic activity. This means that senior cheerleaders, football players, marching band members, girls golf and b&g cross country all get recognized at the last home football game. The public attendance is highest at football games, giving the seniors more recognition. Then they recognize all senior cheerleaders, basketball players, wrestlers, and pep band members at the last home basketball game. To be honest, I’m not sure what they do for the spring activities. The only thing the school misses is the members of the other art activities, such as forensics, debate, scholars bowl, and more.

    1. Thanks for sharing Amanda. I’ve heard a lot of people compliment the way Colby handles things and how there has been a shift in that over the years. I too am a Colby alumnus and while I didn’t play band, I’ve been told that it hasn’t always been this way. So credit to Colby for changing.

      1. Their senior nights are good, but unfortunately Colby is about the worst about holding their athletes to different standards then the general population of students. The double standard is absolutely horrific. I could give some stomach churning examples of outright bullying where as long as the bully is in sports, he is safe… But that would be awful long and way off topic here lol My point is, the arts are still very much on the bottom rung!

  30. Thanks for sharing!!! Have my support. I hope this was enough to get it changed. I was a HC graduate. Sad to see this. Let me know if I can do anything!!!

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing Josh. As for what we can do, I’m not sure. The last home game for the winter has been played and Senior night has come and gone. I would share this link on your various social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and voice your support. Let school officials know of your disappointment with them. And if you can, go to the spring band concert and support all the senior student artists there.

    1. I haven’t been able to find a complete database, but there are 19 CURRENT NFL players from Kansas, none of them are from Western Kansas. The closest is Terence Newman of the Bengals who attended Salina Central. I did find a lost of players BORN in Kansas and couldn’t find any according to that who were born in Graham or Trego County. The closest was two players who were born in Smith Center.

  31. Truth is, long after the knees give way and we have to stop playing sports, we can still produce art (music, painting, drawing, writing, etc.). So, it pays to nurture those skills in young people and honor them for their accomplishments along the way, including senior recognition for musicians. It can be done smoothly and efficiently at the last home football or basketball game, and will probably draw more people (their family and friends) to the athletic event as well.

  32. Thank you for posting this. The added twist in our situation was that the administration stated that cheerleaders would not be recognized either. But of course the cheerleaders were recognized! By sharing your post with my band they didn’t feel quite so isolated realizing that this type of thing happens to others as well.

    Of course, now that the basketball team is traveling to the state tournament we are expected to go. However, the team gets a whole extra day at the location, the cheerleaders get an extra half day at the location, and the band gets to leave just in time to participate. I feel guilty pushing my students to support the school only to see them not receive any of the perks. The life lessons we are teaching through these type of situations aren’t positive.

  33. I grew up in Pretty Prairie, a town of 600 people, whole size of the town was a mile by half. My graduating class was 30 students, with 3 of those being foreign exchange students. I know there are small schools where sports are more important than music. In my hometown, I believe there were sports banquets where all athletes were honored, regardless of what grade they were in. It was also senior athlete recognition night that same night. The arts, which I was in both band/pep band and choir (not much of an athlete), had 2 concerts a year, both Christmas and Spring. At the Spring concert, all of the seniors were recognized for their time and effort that they put in helping the program.

    Yes there was the band/choir money that was taken from us and given to the athletes, which made me mad as we had done the fundraising to make the money. That did just make us work harder to get the money that we needed to do whatever we needed it for.

    I am thankful my school did recognize all seniors, whichever way they participated, whether sports or music or art or debate/forensics. I think the school needs to be called out if they told the pep band seniors that they would be recognized but then took it back.

    Just my two cents, coming from another small town.

    1. I do know that there are small schools that do not have a concert band. All they have is the pep band so basketball and football games are the only time they can get recognized.

  34. I grew up in a large city in Kansas and was a cheerleader at a 6A school all 4 years and later went to cheer at Kansas State. I think this article is awesome and its something I never thought about while I was being recognized on my senior night (5 years ago). All of our band dances (emphasize on band) and the fight song we cheered at every game would of been pretty boring without the band. Now that I’ve graduated college and I’m starting my career its pretty cool that I can do a back flip but I think it would be a lot cooler if I could play an instrument. Its sad that people who are involved in high school and spend just as much time practicing have to feel like they are not as important as the athletes, especially since they were told they would be recognized. Music can take you a lot further in life than being a high school athlete (unless you are one of the very lucky few who makes it into the NFL). Good for these students for these students for what they did and I’m sharing this article with everyone on facebook!

  35. EDITED BY THE SITE ADMINISTRATOR to remove students names for their privacy and safety. The Site Administrator has the original comment for archival purposes.

    ****** and ***** need to grow up and put on their big boy panties!!! It’s obvious you didn’t to all the research needed before posting this and are bias against athletes. Band students are recognized at their concert and if Katie thinks there isn’t good attendance then she is not at the same concerts that I am. I attend the spring concert where the seniors are recognized. To top that, ****** and *****, how much time do you dedicate to practice? I don’t see you taking your horns home everynight and practicing for 21/2 hours and dedicating yourself to a team, you show up when you want and to what games you choose to be at you are not required to be there but get extra credit for being there, so stop whinning. Winter sports were recognized, now do you hear the senior track whinning, they don’t get recognized. Basketball players, wrestlers, and cheerleaders miss going on family vac. over Christmas break because they have practice, do either one of you miss going anywhere? NOT. The boys have the Joe Green Tourney and the cheerleaders cheer, everyone else practices. High School athletes dedicate themselves to their team, their coaches, and their school and for that they should be recognized. Wrestlers diet to maintain weight, sometimes missing meals for a couple days or exercising until they sweat off enough to make weight. Basketball players give up pop and fried foods to increase performance and make sacrifices to make sure they keep their grades up. Not only that, but basketball players are gone not only 2 nights a week but sometimes 3 times per week. They get home late, but still find time to do homework. There were 20 basketball game and of them only 7 maybe 8 were home games. How many did you actually play at? Football players and cross country seniors are recognized during football season, but track and field seniors are not. The school did not revoke the pep band from being recognized, they have not been recognized in the past as for Austin’s comment, standing up for your girlfriend is what you do , but pep band has not been recognized for as long as I can remember and I attend all home and away basketball games. So, Morgan and Katie and the writter of this article for that matter, stop making a mountain out of a mole hill and get off your high horse, you get the recognition you should and in the place you should. As for disrespecting your school, you should be ashamed. This is the school that has provided you with an education, gave you the opportuntiy to play in the pep band and rewarded you for your hard work. You should appologize instead of complaining or maybe they shouldn’t recognize you at all…after all you brought this on to make yourselves, I don’t see the other 3 senior band members complaining. I am proud to be a RINGNECK and support them fully. GO RINGNECKS!!!

    1. I approve every comment on this blog that obviously isn’t spam. So I am approving this. But I want you to read this comment, readers, and see how student artists are treated by their classmates. There I a lot of anger in this comment and at tea it crosses into personal attacks, which the original students DID NOT DO.

      1. This was not me. Seeing as you said classmates I would like you to realize that I am their classmates and whoever wrote that was not. But thanks Everett. Assuming is not the right thing to do sometimes

    2. Emily, my senior night in 2012 they recognized the band and choir members. I remember presenting flowers to Mrs. Potter as she had announced retirement and was attending her last basketball game as instructor of the pep band. Your argument is a bit flawed

    3. Yay! Very well said Em. As a parent of a mature band member, I agree whole heartedly. Who has gone to state and practiced her little fingers to the bone to get there! Mine band member is recognized every time she plays!

  36. Okay. Let’s clear things up a little bit. I am Emily Brack. I am senior in high school and the person that posted that blog under Emily WAS NOT ME. Many may think it was me but obviously it was not seeing that our names our different here. I am not a bully or anything of the sort. I was outraged that they did not get announced but mr. Reynolds did mention that their were 5 seniors and to give them a big hand. I was there that night. I told parents how much it bothered me including Morgans mother. I for one am very disappointed that I have gotten calls and texts saying that was me. I told morgAn what I thought of this article and event in class during 4th hour. For everyone that took that persons writing as mine. I am very sorry to say but it was not me and I would never take credit for that writing about my school. I do not agree with that paragraph and I hope now that this is all cleared up. And one more thing, I thought Everett would have known I am not one to do that kind of thing.

    1. I can track via email addresses and IP addresses each person’s posts. I want to clarify that the original “Emily” poster was NOT Emily Brack. I know this because their IP addresses are different.

      Again, Emily, I never assumed that this was from you and I apologize if I gave that impression.

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