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Only D203 music students can join extracurricular music groups: proposal

A proposal that would stop Naperville District 203 students from participating in extracurricular music activities like marching band if they weren’t enrolled district music classes faced opposition at this week’s school board meeting.

Several students told board members they don’t want to give up other electives that are more important to getting into college, like foreign language study, just so they could do something they enjoy when school’s not in session.

The proposed change is called concurrent, or dual, enrollment, which mandates that a student enroll in a curriculum music class if they want to be involved in an extracurricular music activity.

If approved, it would be phased in over two years, with seniors being allowed to take a lunchtime music technique classes and other grade levels to sign on for regular music classes.

Chala Holland, assistant superintendent for administrative services, said concurrent enrollment programs are common in many high schools because they are “a pillar for building and maintaining a strong comprehensive music program.

“It really focuses on delivery of instructional standards and skill development,” she said.

It’s also a way to bolster declining enrollment in the district’s curricular music classes, officials said. In the 2017-18 school year, 314 students were enrolled in music classes as opposed to 183 in 2021-22 and 265 this year, data shows.

The fluctuation in numbers can likely be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.

But students told the board they shouldn’t be expected to add more to their schedules — or give up electives they want to take — simply because they want to be part of music-related activities after school or on weekends.

Bianca Cima, a North Central High School junior, said she is already pressed hard for time. Some days have her starting at 7 am so she can attend a school club meeting and not finishing until 6:15 pm when marching band practice ends, she said.

“Lunch is my only break in my 11-hour day,” Cima said. “Students also (use their lunch break) for completing homework, making up class work and sometimes just taking a moment to relax.”

Athena Chen, also a Naperville Central junior, said she’s worried that taking a required music class will prevent her from taking the business classes she’d rather attend.

“I decided on taking business classes and to fall back on the fact that I can still enjoy my music here,” said Chen, noting that she loves music and being in the marching band.

The board took no action on the proposal but one member, Charles Cush, said he didn’t want to push for something that will end up putting an additional burden on students.

“I would encourage us to go back to the drawing board and think of a different idea,” Cush said. “(This) is not comfortable for me.”

Joseph Ruzich is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.

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