Music Tour dates moved to coincide with Alternatives and Ecology trip

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Photo from Music Teacher Lorraine Davis

After feedback from the school community, including the Performing Arts Department, the administration has decided to move the four-day Music Tour trip to run concurrently with the Alternatives trips in late March. These trips also overlap with the Ecology Expeditions trip to South Africa. As a result, students enrolled in Concert Band, Chamber Orchestra or Concert Choir will not travel on Alternatives. Students who are taking Ecology and a music class will travel on the South Africa trip as opposed to Music Tour.

The Alternatives program, which used to take place in October, was moved to March for this school year. March already included student trips for Ecology Expeditions, the Harvard-China Model United Nations (MUN) conference, ISST sports competitions and the Midwest Regional First Robotics Competition. Music Tour followed shortly after during the first week of April. Following this initial move, the Ecology Expeditions trip and MUN conference became a part of the Alternatives program, and students involved travelled on their designated trips.

While moving Alternatives to March reinforced the idea of a new Alternatives program, offering bonding and activities to occur in groups throughout the school year, it added another trip to the same time period, which caused more hectic schedules, as outlined in the email sent to the school community by Director of Student Life James Perry.

Principal Devan Ganeshananthan believes that this was a major factor in the decision to change Music Tour, in that the additional travel caused issues relating to students’ focus on academics. “In terms of leading the school, I never want any indirect pressure to affect curricular motivation,” Ganeshananthan said.

Eilis Kenney (’22) believes that the change wasn’t necessarily fair to music students who also wanted to attend Alternatives, but was understandable given this issue. “I understand that workload can sometimes pile up if you do a lot of trips and that’s why they changed it,” Kenney said.

Ganeshananthan also said that the extra cost of Music Tour will be reduced for parents because the Alternatives budget will now be allocated to Music Tour with the trips occuring at the same time.

The Alternatives trip was originally created for students not on the Music Tour trip, and evolved over time to include the entire student body. The new changes to Alternatives would return the program to its roots as a substitute for Music Tour, rather than an additional mandatory trip.

Kenney believes that, while this was the original purpose of the Alternatives trip, this step is going backwards and could negatively impact the music program. “Less people are going to want to sign up. If less people sign up for music then there’s going to be less people for Music Tour which mean less variety of songs,” she said.

The administration spoke to different groups in the school community regarding the change, including the Performing Arts Department, which runs the Music Tour trip, the Parent-Community Association, the Student Council, and the Teaching & Learning Group.

For Kenney, however, she did not feel they were explicitly consulted about the change. “I feel like we should have been briefed about it first before just implementing it,” Kenney said.

Andrew Shaffran (’20), a member of the choir, didn’t agree at first with this new schedule, yet he was in a unique situation. “I wasn’t originally in favor of the change this year, but my ecology trip overlapped with Alternatives, so I didn’t go on Alternatives anyway this year,” he said.

Still, Shaffran remembers the Alternatives trips he was able to go on and missed. “I did really enjoy my experience the past two years,” Shaffran said. Although now, like the other choir, orchestra and band students, he will not be attending Alternatives next year.