Expanding our minds and sounds

Underfunded orchestra programs offer potential for high schools students.

By Persephone Means

Orchestra is an essential part of some student’s lives. To others, it seems insignificant or unneeded.

Students that participate in orchestra around the state have been feeling unappreciated for far too long. Often times, orchestra ensembles are just tacked on to the end of Christmas concerts and are glided over. The instructors and children are feeling worn out and uninspired. Worse even, some learning facilities don’t even have an orchestra program.

Iola High School is fortunate enough to have an orchestra program. In the last four years, it has expanded to 21 players.

Arts fundings are becoming even more limited in-state now, and orchestra often gets cut first. Unable to purchase new bows, rosin, cello endpin stops, or even decent instruments, many orchestra programs are falling apart. Most, if not all, of the instruments in the IHS Orchestra are graciously donated or personally bought, and all of the other accoutrements are bought out-of-pocket from the students and/or teacher.

A potential solution? Encouraging more funding towards orchestra and the other arts. In 2011, Kansas Gov. Brownback suspended the Kansas Arts Commission in attempts to raise and balance Kansas’ state budget. This cut money flow to many districts and arts programs and is only one of many examples of arts funding budget cuts.

Kansas House Rep. Kent Thompson and Sen. Caryn Tyson have full potential to step up and speak out for the arts. They could serve as advocates for students and districts across the states from the capitol in Topeka.

If you want to express your ideas, email Thompson at kent.thompson@house.ks.gov, and Tyson at Caryn.Tyson@senate.ks.gov.