While the halls of J.L. Crowe Secondary may not have been alive with the sounds of music last year, the addition of former Rossland Secondary School students and the band instructor, Jennifer Kolumbus, to the last surviving secondary school in the area is spurring a musical revival of sorts.
“We’ve got a bunch that are keen to get a program started,” said Kolumbus. “There are some pretty talented, eager kids in the school, some are pretty young too.”
Although RSS students have had an active music program, at Crowe the band program has struggled to draw students in recent years and didn’t run at all last year.
“Historically, band was a course option at the school, jazz or concert band,” said Dave DeRosa, principal of Crowe Secondary. “With any elective student choice plays a role in its success, students weren’t choosing it. We offered it off-timetable but there wasn’t enough interest.”
The inclusion of students from RSS into the student body, who have had the opportunity to participate in a successful band program, seems to have been the tipping point which allows the return of the program to Crowe.
“We’ve always had a core group at the grade 10, 11, and 12 level that had an interest in having a music program, maybe eight or nine kids,” said DeRosa. “We just didn’t have the extra seven or eight that would be enough to make the program run.
“I’m super excited, I’ve missed having a group of our kids that can perform in front of our kids.
“I’ve been an advocate to make it happen and I’ll do everything I can as principal to support it.”
The enthusiastic instructor for the program has admirable goals for the students, hoping to see them perform publicly as much as possible and to integrate with some of the other arts programs available at Crowe.
“One goal is getting the kids playing in the community, show the community that we do have music and have kids who want to play,” said Kolumbus.
“It would also show the kids that the experience of playing together and playing in public is fun.”
Kolumbus is also hoping to enhance the program by bringing in special speakers and experts for workshops and try to expose the students to a variety of performances they might not see and hear otherwise.
She says she also recognizes that, while a student may be interested in music, it may not always be interest in the more classical forms that draws them.
“I think we may need to re-invent the program to address that,” she said. “Some may be more interested in music and technology, re-mixing or maybe they want to DJ. I’d like to see collaboration with the audio-visual department, maybe working with the drama department, have all the kids and teachers working together to amalgamate our talents.”
Overall, Kolumbus feels that it’s the students themselves that will be the ones who determine the direction and success of the program at Crowe.
“We have to ask the kids what they want to see in the program,” she said. “They’re going to be the leaders of this in the school. They’re the ones who will bring the program to life again.”