FORT COLLINS - Luke Gilliland is a freshman at Fort Collins High School. He wants to be part of a tradition that has sent students to perform at Carnegie Hall. But now, he finds himself part of a group fighting to save the music.
"Our school is known for having just such a great group of students that come through in the music program," Gilliland said.
Principal Mark Eversole of Fort Collins High School is expecting about 100 fewer students for the 2013-14 school year. He says that means he has to make about $120,000 in cuts. Friday, students like Gilliland were told that likely means cuts to the school's coveted music program.
"Which will include two choirs that will be lost - Jazz Choir and Barbershop Quartet," Gilliland said.
Gilliland says the Jazz Combo group and Dixieland Band may also be eliminated. That's why he and classmates Olivia Sponsler and Johnny Bugarin are putting together a student effort aimed at saving the music programs.
"We need to get in school and out of school support and use all of that to show the administration how and why this is important," said Sponsler, a junior.
But, Principal Eversole the school is forced to make cuts across the board. In a statement, he adds, "When students signed up for courses in February, fewer students signed up for several courses in 8 different departments, including music."
The students are vowing to fight. They launched a Facebook page entitled "Save FCHS Music" which in just a span of a few days now has nearly 2,500 members.
"We know we're losing students, so basically we're to propose ways to make our department self-sufficient in the future," Sponsler said.
Bugarin wants people to email him ideas on how to generate funds at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Music is just one of those things you can't really end up cutting because it matter so much to so many people," said Bugarin, a senior. "I just want to keep our program alive."
Eversole says the reality might just be a numbers game that does not add up to saving the program.
"Program reductions are never easy. However, with limited resources we have to make decisions that maximize how our available dollars are spent. I understand and respect the passion of our students for music and other electives. In today's environment of limited school funding, tough decisions must be made," said Eversole in a released statement.
The students say this is just the beginning of their efforts to save the programs they're passionate about.
"Just by doing music, it lets me kind of release all that tension that's built up in previous classes," Gilliland said. "It lets me be able to communicate how I feel through music."
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