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By Douglas Sciorra

Hornell City School Board gets an earful, Marching Band Boosters is now history

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School administration removed Marching Band from curriculum, now an after-school club

Pictured, Renea Clifford, addressing the board

By Syrena Lynn Carver

In 2009, parents and supporters of the Hornell School Marching Band formed a booster organization to help fund the band travel for competitions. Since then the Hornell Marching Band has had an advocate for funding and supporting band travel for state level competitions. Not only did the boosters help Hornell student musicians travel to compete, they brought the competition to Hornell for three years in a row.

A fierce advocate for the booster club, Renea Clifford, notified the school board this week that Hornell Marching Band Boosters are no longer. Clifford wasn’t shy about explaining why the decision was made:

“Our Marching Band continued to improve each year. Then, out of the blue, and with no transparency, the administration chose to take Marching Band out of the day curriculum and make it an extra curricular activity, meaning the marching band would have to practice outside of regular school hours.”

Superintendent Palotti listens to Renea Clifford address the board

That decision had a major impact on the Marching Band. Participation dropped as kids were forced to choose between after-school work or sports, and Marching Band. Clifford and her fellow booster volunteers still can’t understand the decision:

“It still baffles us that this decision was made after studies have borne out for years that participation in music improves all types of learning for students. By making this arbitrary and non-transparent decision, the administration set the Marching Band up for failure.”

When the Hornell City School administration took away the Marching Band, it obviously undercut the need for the boosters to support them. After her cutting speech to the board and Superintendent, Clifford following the boosters bylaws, donated the last dollars back to the school district.

On behalf of the boosters, Clifford handed the board of education a check for $2483.53 and closed the books on the Hornell Marching Band Boosters. The donation was intended to support the existing Hornell City School music program as, “the band director sees fit.”

While Clifford read the letter to the board, she was representing the current booster volunteer staff.

After the meeting, the school board was quick to exit the meeting and was not available for comment.

When the Hornell Sun reached out to Clifford after the meeting, she indicated that she had received no response from the board or Superintendent Jeremy Palotti.

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