I was born and raised in Willmar and graduated from Willmar High School in 1993. If you went to school in Willmar, chances are you had one of my parents as a teacher, advisor, or coach at some point.
Today, I live in St. Paul, sing opera for a living, and have performed all across the country with some of the most prestigious musicians in the industry. I would not be where I am today without the first-rate arts education I received in Willmar, Minn. From elementary school music with DeeAnna Dorsey to high school band with Terry Brau and Steve Trochlil, I learned the fundamentals that prepared me for a life in music.
The reason I am writing is because our arts and athletics programs are in peril. As you all know, the coming election is one of unprecedented historical proportions, no matter what side of the aisle you are on. On the ballot in Willmar is a referendum that would keep our school district's operating costs at their current standards. If it fails, large cuts will have to be made, and arts and athletics could be in danger of losing funding.
As you also know, the volatility of our current economy is scary and unnerving, and with each political party claiming to have the solutions to this problem, the tension and political noise has risen to the highest level.
It seems to me the one safe investment we have today is the education of our youth. Not that they will grow up to be professional musicians or athletes, but programs like arts and athletics make our kids smarter, more well-rounded, better people. I know that times are tough, and we are all making sacrifices. I'm asking you to think hard about our students and vote yes twice on Nov. 4.