I would like to rebut some of the incorrect claims made by the opponents of the upcoming referendum, most notably about the auditorium.

      Uninformed assertion: “Most high school auditoriums are in the 10,000-to 12,000-square-foot range. I would vote yes for that, at $5 million!”

      This came directly from the “Yes for East Troy” Facebook page, posted by a referendum opponent and Village Board Trustee.  This is incorrect.  The footprint of every auditorium in our area is considerably bigger.

      Perhaps this person is confusing the audience space with an entire auditorium facility, which in the referendum includes a scene shop/storage room, dressing rooms, lobby and restrooms for the audience, and of course, a decent sized stage.  The total area of the current high school performance space is about 7,000 square feet, so if this was the actual proposal, I would vote “no,” because it’s obvious that $5 million dollars would buy a facility that is too small and woefully inadequate for our community’s needs.

      I’ve been on several auditorium tours in the past 14 years, and no one complained about an extra “bell and whistle” item they could do without. The only regrets expressed were concerns over what could have been better.  We all realize that additions or retrofits to facilities are much less desirable and way more expensive than getting it right from the start.

      Uninformed assertion: “It’s a waste of money to build an auditorium because the odds of getting an acting or music job are terrible.”

        If we applied that kind of logic to everything offered to students, there would be no sports facilities.  I can think of only two ETHS alumni who had very brief careers as athletes, but I would never consider abolishing our sports programs.

      The most important reason that schools provide curricular instruction and other activities in the performing arts and sports is not for future performance careers; rather, these activities provide our students with enrichment opportunities unique to music, drama and athletics.

      They also teach our kids teamwork, discipline and cooperation. Also, the concerts, plays and sporting events presented by our school organizations provide our community with vibrant, meaningful cultural and communal experiences.

      With that said, I can name dozens of grads who have enjoyed careers as actors, musicians, music teachers, technical theater specialists and other professions related to the performing arts. In the past 12 years, I have seen 11 of our former students pursue degrees in music and theater.

      Miscellaneous uninformed assertions:  “1. A new auditorium won’t raise ACT scores; 2.We shouldn’t spend any money on “fluff”; 3. I support an auditorium, but more important things should come first.”

      These claims speak more to the justification of performing arts in the school curriculum than anything, but I’m happy to rebut them one at a time.

      First:  Of course, an auditorium won’t raise ACT scores, but in fact, studies have consistently shown that music students have higher ACT and SAT scores than non-music students.  STEM labs won’t improve test scores, either, but I support their inclusion in the referendum.

      Second:  Anyone who thinks that the performing arts curriculum is “fluff” obviously doesn’t come to the concerts. The upper level ensembles perform collegiate level repertoire.  Starting in the 2014-15 school year, advanced band and choir will be honors classes if students meet very rigorous performance and writing requirements.

      Third: The “more important” needs in the high school are being addressed.  Even though STEM is a curriculum and not a facility, two STEM labs are part of the referendum, along with the needs of tech ed. department.  So the third point is baseless, brought up only to discredit the legitimacy of the performing arts.

      Finally, I am dismayed at the tone of some who oppose the referendum. They would have us believe that the school board is trying to deceive the public while at the same time using the district web page as a fact source.  These claims are disingenuous.

      I can understand an honest difference of opinion, but to those opponents of the referendum, I say this- If you can’t bolster your argument with anything more substantive than comments that impugn the goodwill and character of the school board, you shouldn’t be taken seriously.  I hope the voting public feels the same way.

Rodger Trader,

ETHS Class of 1970

Choir Director,

East Troy High School

 

 
 

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