Ms Terwilliger makes a compelling and articulate statement in support of Mr Shepherd, one which was echoed by numerous citizens and alumni of the Lancaster school district. I applaud her and other alumni and parents for reaching out to help preserve him from termination. I wish the outcome had been different. Shepherd is one of the finest musicians I know and the circumstances leading to his departure are most unfortunate.
Having said that, I must take exception to the writer's statement that the district "seems intent on making it as hard as possible" for graduates to pursue the fine arts. Given the size of our district (declining enrollment for many years now) and the greatly constrained resources available in our present political climate, even the casual observer will find plenty of good news in our instrumental, choral, graphic, and drama arts opportunities. Yes, participating numbers have declined, but the same is true of other co-curricular activities, including most of our athletic teams. Nothing is “disappearing”; in fact, the district has made herculean efforts behind the scenes to adjust resources and make scheduling work, all to preserve as many opportunities as possible for an ever-smaller population of students. It’s a delicate balancing act.
The writer is one of those relatively rare and gifted people who developed a passion for the arts early, and has been able to carry that passion forward into her adult life. Her experience with the arts in Lancaster was greatly enhanced by Mr Shepherd’s influence, and I know first-hand of others whom he inspired in a similar fashion. While I am most disappointed to see him go, I urge the community to lend its support to our new band instructors at both the middle and high school levels. Help us, and them, to make a first-class instrumental music program that continues Mr Shepherd’s legacy and brings pride to our fine community.