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Letter: Schools, music need support

My name is Andrew Schulz, and I'm a sophomore music education major at the University of Minnesota-Morris, as well as a graduate of the Willmar public school system.

I am writing this letter to address a seriously concerning problem both to me and to many of my friends and peers: For the past few years, Willmar's music department has been threatened by deep, debilitating budget cuts. Positions have been threatened -- even entire sections of our program.

In my time exploring various high schools around the state in my own strong personal interest in the American education system, I have to say that I have honestly never found anything quite as special as the senses of community, energy and concentration I see and feel in the public school system in this city.

The incredible passion shown by the music faculty at Willmar Senior High School drove me to college -- without them, I firmly believe I would not have pursued higher education, let alone discovered my own passions for conducting, teaching and mentorship. I intend to share these things with the generations following my own as a member of a high school music department myself one day, but what really speaks to the influence and character of this department are how it has affected students interested in all areas of study.

A soloist from his years in high school now diligently works on organic chemistry while still occasionally humming his part from "Loch Lomond." A promising pre-med friend of mine marched his heart out in our burgeoning marching band program, which influences him to this day. My class's valedictorian is currently attending Notre Dame -- she's also a brilliant violinist nurtured by Willmar's orchestra program.

These things strongly and positively affected some very talented people that have come out of the Willmar Public School system, and taking that opportunity away from our current and future students by forcing budget cuts on their places of education due to lack of community support is truly a shame. Support our music and our schools, Willmar.

Andrew Schulz