Letter: Continue the DHS Choral Program


By Dan Wolk

(Delivered initially during public comment on Tuesday).

As many of you know, I am a product of the Davis schools and in particular its stellar music program.  I participated in music in elementary school, had the amazing Rachel Kessler in junior high chorus, and sang with Dick Brunelle and Karen Gardias in high school with the Madrigals and Jazz Choir.

I would not be who I am today without chorus – and in particular the junior high choral program which was very foundational and formative for me and I know so many others.  And Jamima and I are excited that both our elementary school age girls are interested in chorus and look forward to their having the same opportunities we had to do music.

But now it’s come to my attention that the school district is contemplating cutting the junior high choral program in half.  We were shocked to hear this.

As you know from your discussion about the facilities bond, our schools and their leaders need to be focused on reinvesting in our assets and students – not disinvesting.  I strongly urge you to seize this opportunity to reject such disinvestment and instead maintain and even augment the existing program.  In so doing, you will:

  • retain the 5 choirs of the past 2 years including developmentally appropriate bi-level choirs at 2 of the junior highs
  • effectuate the adequate preparation of the junior high choirs to feed into the high school choirs – without that, the entire music program will suffer
  • expand the possibilities for outreach to elementary schools resulting in long-term choir growth; something Jamima and I have noted with our elementary age children
  • be consistent with the advice of music professionals (including current and former teachers in the district)
  • adhere to parcel tax commitments to Davis parents and other taxpayers to support music programming in the schools
  • protect and enhance an inclusive program that provides demonstrated social-emotional benefits, and for students for whom an instrumental music program may not be an option.

At the very least, I ask the district to postpone this decision to allow for more discussion and transparency.  I know that I personally was not aware of this, particularly in such a busy time for parents and students.

Dan Wolk is a Davis resident, parent, and former Mayor of Davis.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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4 thoughts on “Letter: Continue the DHS Choral Program”

  1. Tia Will

    I also would support a continuation of funding of the district’s music programs. Dan Wolk was indeed fortunate to participate in these free to student and family programs. He comes from a family that would have been able to provide him with excellent musical training even if it had not been offered in the schools. My support is for a very different reason.

    A significant number of our district’s children come from families that cannot afford private musical instruction. The initial reaction may be “so what”?  My response to that is that music is integral adjuvant to development of skills in both language and mathematics, two areas in which there is a competency gap in our student populations. Many people think of music as  just a fun extracurricular activity. I would suggest that it is much more and would provide both an incentive to remain engaged in school as well as a path to proficiency in critical skills areas.

    1. Jim Hoch

      Music education certainly has value. More so than a pool for the swim team but less than a pool for phys-ed IMHO.  Choir is particularly accessible and cost effective.

      1. Howard P

        Not “aimed” at you, but made me remember a great quote that Dad used… “they know the words, but haven’t heard the music”… have found that to be very true in many aspects in life, having nothing to do with music, per se…

        I participated in choir and band in elementary school… it does indeed have value… opening a door as it were… my voice “cracked” in seventh grade, but on my own, sometimes with parental support, learned to play piano, guitar (both regular and slide), cornet, and banjo… never mastered any of those, but the experience was enough… still am fond of music, and the effect it has on us, emotionally, cognitively, etc.

        Competitive sports are a “want” not a “need”…  PE and Music education are needs, at basic levels… but not at competitive nor ‘mastery’ levels… in my experience, and opinion…


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