The Good, the bad, the ugly by MICHAEL S. SHIBLER, Ph.D. Superintendent of Schools The Good—This fall, Rockford’s marching band took third place in the state in Division I competition. This is the strongest rating our marching band has ever earned in recent history. Congratulations! Several of our athletic teams won district and regional championships. Congratulations to Rockford’s boys water polo team, who won their seventh state title over the past 10 years. Their achievement was especially gratifying because the team was not considered a threat during tournament play. New classroom expansions, paid through the 2008 bond issue, at Cannonsburg, Lakes, Roguewood, and Valley View elementary schools are now ready for students. Planning continues for classroom additions to Belmont and Crestwood elementary schools. District-wide technology upgrades along with recreation and athletic field additions continue toward completion and within budget. Rockford’s academic and fine arts programs continue to exceed the high expectations established by staff, students and community. The successes our students experience in the classroom continue to validate Rockford’s outstanding academic programs. The Bad—Since the early 2000s, bi-partisan organizations such as the Citizens Research Council and University of Michigan economists, have been predicting that the current system to fund public education would soon be broken. Well, it’s almost 2010, and the system is on life support with barely a pulse. With the 1994 implementation of Proposal A, school districts currently receive two-thirds of their revenue through state sales and income taxes and one-third from property taxes. With Michigan’s high unemployment rate and significant downsizing of manufacturing, revenues from state sales and income taxes are below expectations, and revenue from property taxes are barely neutral, creating what is called a “structural deficit.” A structural deficit exists when revenues to fund essential services, such as police, fire and education, are less than required to maintain existing programs. Most experts will tell you that state government cannot “cut their way” out of a structural deficit and that new or expanded revenue resources must be created. Even in a severely stressed economy, Michigan lawmakers have the means to restructure the funding system for essential services. But the question still remains: “Does the will exist?” If Michigan’s current system to fund public education is broken because of the structural deficit, […]
Rockford High School Marching Band
The Rockford High School marching band took third place in the Michigan Competing Band Association’s (MCBA) Flight I state championship at Detroit’s Ford Field on Saturday, Nov. 7. The band’s exceptional performance of “The Four Freedoms,” a musical composition based on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 famous speech, received a score of 84.9, Rockford’s highest score and ranking ever at the MCBA championship. “It’s been an incredible season right from the start! The staff knew we had a great show. It was simply up to what the kids were going to do with it. They’ve worked so hard to get here. They should be proud!” said Brian Phillips, Rockford marching band director. Four flights of competition comprise MCBA’s championship contest with 10 high school bands from across the state competing in each flight. The judging system for the event places an emphasis on music as the most important aspect of the performance, with marching as the presentation and visual enhancement. The scoring system places 60 percent of value on music, and 40 percent on visual performance. At the same time, 60 percent of the score is within the area of general effect and 40 percent within the performance area, though it all boils down to precision of the material performed. Rockford’s marching season came to a close with a banquet on Monday, Nov. 9. Several students received varsity letters, awards and recognition, and Phillips thanked the many parents and staff who helped make the season a success. Dr. Michael Shibler, superintendent of Rockford Public Schools, also made an appearance and praised the band members. “I could not miss this opportunity to say congratulations,” said Shibler. “You do not know how proud we are of what you’ve accomplished. The bar has been set high.” The band now moves into concert season with the wind ensemble’s brass section performing at the annual lighting ceremony in downtown Rockford’s Peppler Park on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 5:45 p.m., and at the Cannonsburg Christmas celebration on Monday, Nov. 30 at 6:00 p.m. For more information, visit www.rockfordbands.org.
The Rockford High School marching band took first place in their flight, and scored the second-highest overall point total among 18 competing high school bands at the West Shore Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 31. “There’s no way to put into words how proud I am of the band’s performance Saturday. They truly have taken this ensemble to the next level,” said Brian Phillips, Rockford marching band director. Reeths-Puffer (flight two) took top score of the day with 87.7 points with Rockford close behind at 85.55. Jenison (flight two) was third with 82.7 points. Rockford’s exceptional performance moved the band to fifth place in flight one state standings—based on the average of each band’s top two scores—with the Michigan Competing Band Association. The competition’s location was switched from Muskegon to Rockford’s Ted Carlson Memorial Stadium, which has artificial turf, due to concerns over recent heavy rains saturating the field at Reeths-Puffer High School. “The students are so pumped after their performance at the West Shore Invitational,” said Patt Clement, president of the Rockford Band Parents Association. The West Shore Invitational was Rockford’s final competition prior to the state championship contest scheduled for Nov. 7 at Ford Field in Detroit. For more information visit www.rockfordbands.org.
The Rockford High School marching band once again came out on top in Flight I competition, at the Allegan Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 24. Rockford placed third overall among 20 high school bands in the Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) competition with a score of 76.8. Brian Phillips, Rockford marching band director, credits his students for their stellar performance with the adverse weather conditions, an area in which he was hoping to see some improvement after the Belding Invitational. “It was cold, rainy, and the field was in terrible condition. Ironically, we had our strongest show of the year. That is exactly the kind of mental focus we need! They should be proud,” said Phillips. Allegan spread “quick dry” on its rain-soaked field prior to the competition in an effort to provide much needed traction for participants, although the band still experienced six students slipping in the mud and falling to the ground during the performance. “The conditions at Allegan made it very difficult for the band to stay on their feet,” said Patt Clement, president of the Rockford Band Parent Association. “In one case, a sousaphone player fell and it caused another sousaphone player to trip over him which, in turn, damaged the instrument.” With one remaining MCBA event, the Reeths-Puffer Invitational on Oct. 31, the band moves into the MCBA champion contest at Ford Field on Saturday, Nov. 7. “One of our goals is to achieve our highest level of excellence possible,” said Phillips. “We know we can’t ‘win’ state finals. We are in a flight where there are several bands that practice every day after school for several hours. We meet only one night per week for three hours. However, we don’t look at that as a limitation; we look at it as a challenge to see what we can do with the limited time we have. We currently ‘place’ higher than many bands that rehearse much more than we do. We simply want to be as great as possible.” Phillips added, “I also want our students to have a life-enriching, musical experience in band—one that they will remember for their life, and can be proud of.” For more information visit www.rockfordbands.org.
The Rockford High School marching band once again showed its prowess with top score of the day at Belding High School’s invitational on Saturday, Oct. 10. Rockford was among 11 high school bands participating in the Michigan Competing Band Association (MCBA) event. The band finished the performance with 73.3 points overall. The next highest score was Durand High School in flight four with 68.9. Rockford band director Brian Phillips is happy with Saturday’s performance, but he also notes that competitions are about more than simply striving for a high number. “I was very pleased, visually, with the band’s performance Saturday night,” said Phillips. “It was one of Rockford’s strongest visual productions ever. To be honest, I was a little disappointed musically. We are a young band, and we have some work to do in the area of toughening up the kids, especially in adverse weather conditions. I am extremely proud of what they did accomplish. I think the part of which I am most proud is the kids’ attitudes on the night. They know we did well, but they also know we left a lot on the field, and it hurt our overall performance—and they wish we could have a do-over.” Schools are ranked by MCBA in one of four flights according to enrollment size the previous spring. Rockford was the only school Saturday participating in flight one, and is currently ranked fourth in the state out of nine schools that have posted scores thus far this season. In order to qualify for state finals at Ford Field on Nov. 7, bands must compete in at least two MCBA sanctioned contests and place among the 10 highest scoring bands in its flight. Rockford has made the state finals every year since joining the association. The Rockford band’s two remaining competitions are both MCBA sanctioned events, at Allegan High School Oct. 24 and at Reeths-Puffer Oct. 31. “We have awesome kids. They will learn from this and continue to grow into an amazing band. I’m looking forward to our next shot,” said Phillips. Band members are working hard on fundraisers to help subsidize expenses such as band camp, uniforms, and more, so please be on the lookout for students selling door-to-door in your neighborhood. For more […]