It has recently come to my attention that the budget cuts in the Willmar School System are yet again threatening the music program.
This is unacceptable.
People do not truly realize how blessed our community is to have such a strong music program in our schools. Willmar's music department is consistently at the top of the section and conference by large margins over other programs.
It is one of, if not the strongest, extracurricular activities that Willmar has to offer. The jazz ensemble, in particular, continues to be likely the best in the state outside of the Twin Cities area.
The fall musical is always superb and draws a tremendous amount of paying supporters, often selling out the auditorium. Consider the marching band. In just four summers, they have gone from non-existent to a champion contender.
What's the common denominator?
It's Bryan Mara. His position is crucial. Without his expertise, wisdom, and talent (not to mention blood, sweat and tears), the music program would not have had the success that it has over the last five years.
His responsibilities include the concert band, the marching band, the set crew and design for the musical, the jazz band, and much more... and that's only at the high school!
Last year's budget cuts have forced him and the other music faculty to split time teaching at the elementary schools. While the younger students benefit from such great teachers, the older students suffer without proper attention.
Without Mr. Mara, there would simply be too many things for Mr. Brau to handle with the same level of excellence. I was privileged to be a part of this program from 2003-2009.
I am now a part of one of the best collegiate jazz programs in the country at Michigan State University, and it is easy for me to say that it would have not been possible without the guidance and wisdom of Bryan Mara and all of the other music faculty. I think it is clear that it would be an enormous mistake to make more cuts to one of Willmar's strongest assets.