Kids protest music changes

“Kelly’s Kids” returned to the Northgate School Board Monday evening to make one more attempt to persuade Northgate officials not to make changes to reduce the amount of time middle-senior high school music teacher Kelly Winovich spends with them.

The board voted last month to enact curriculum changes that administrators hope will put more of an emphasis on both vocal and instrumental music, particularly at the elementary level. Much to the dismay of Northgate’s middle school-age students, that will involve Winovich no longer teaching general music in the middle school, but instead spending part of her time teaching vocal music at the elementary schools. Winovich will remain in charge of the middle-senior high school chorus.

When rumors of the impending change leaked before the new music program was even fully developed, students and parents opposed the loss of Winovich even part of the time, voicing their concerns at a school board meeting. Superintendent Dr. Caroline Johns promised to meet with the students to better explain the changes. Although she and curriculum director Shaun Tomaszewski did that recently, their pitch fell on deaf ears.

Student after student pleaded with the board at Monday’s meeting, all agreeing that Winovich is much more than a teacher. Parents agreed that her ability to counsel and support students has made a huge difference in the lives of many teenagers who did not feel comfortable talking with their parents or a guidance counselor.

Lori Woods, whose daughters have graduated but at least one of whom stays in contact with Winovich, told the board, “There are kids out there dying because they don’t have a voice. You don’t hear them,” she said, but teachers like Winovich do.

Students said they gathered 100 signatures on a petition opposing the changes to the music program, and accused the officials of having “no respect for the students’ views.”

“Are you going to listen to your students?” one student asked.

Asked later whether change might be made in response to the concerns expressed by students and parents, Johns responded, “ We [the administrators] have not changed our recommendation to the board.