Letters to the Editor

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The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter to Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) Superintendent Pasquale Scuderi and a response from Encinal High School Principal Dan Hurst.

Superintendent Scuderi:

Hearing about the recent disposal of the 300 or more Encinal High School (EHS) band trophies made me nauseous. As a musician, I performed in my high-school orchestra all four years, earned awards and even a place on the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra. 

I also lettered as an athlete in football, earning numerous All-Conference and All-State awards. My hard work and achievements earned me many invitations to universities. I eventually performed in band and lettered in two sports at Wittenberg University. 

In high school, I knew all the “Bandies.” They were a proud group of classmates who also earned many awards. They toiled just as hard as any athlete on the field. Their music rallied us football players at every game. Win or lose, they were there for us.  

Our EHS students and alumni band members and all graduates deserve the public recognition of their achievements proudly preserved and displayed as symbols of their history and the history of the greater school community. It sickened me to see the fruits of these achievements in the trash. 

As a parent of two Encinal Jets and as an athletic booster at EHS, I find it an insult to the memory of the students, alumni and families who all invest countless hours of  love and support into our student’s — our children’s — efforts. It was a destructive act of disrespect for the students to witness their community’s trophies discarded. 

Even harder for me, was watching the AUSD spokesperson respond on camera. It left me angered as she declared this no accident or prank, as I first thought, but a district-sanctioned decision. To characterize this response as “tone deaf” does not capture the indelicate parsing of words. Nor will it erase the pain and injury done to generations of students, families and alumni. 

AUSD defended its decision to dispose of thousands of hours of work, skill building, dreams realized and history represented in those trophies. AUSD chose not to reach out, listen nor involve the school community to find a solution. This leaves me to ask, “What valuable lesson does this teach?” Moreover, “What message does this send to our community?”

What has AUSD become, when it does not seek the counsel of its stakeholders? What our community’s children now know is that their work and achievements do not matter, at least, not to AUSD.  For what more is a trophy other than that physical representation of an achievement? To what would any high school football player aspire to had he or she come upon the Heisman Trophy heaped with others in a dumpster?

As AUSD strives to become a partner in our children’s academic future, perhaps there is a higher road to take. The damage may have been done, but it does not have to end there.  

I encourage you to take a path that seeks to enjoin the EHS Band students and alumni and our school community in finding a suitable place for the displaced memories of their achievements. This would help to restore the dignity, the respect and decorum our school community deserves. 

— Amos White

Amos:

I offer you this letter as explanation, not excuse. On behalf of the school and all those who are dedicated to serving our students, I offer you our sincere apology that this happened. Sometimes, despite the very best of intentions, we make mistakes. We are writing today to talk about one of those mistakes and offer a sincere apology.

Over the last several years, the music room had been getting more and more crowded with trophies won at various competitions. In fact, when new music instructor Tony Gennaro arrived in August, he found more than 200 trophies scattered throughout the classroom, some of which were very large. These trophies were both crowding out valuable classroom space and posing a safety hazard.

Our team — which consisted of Mr. Gennaro, students and music booster parents — sorted and inventoried the trophies to keep an electronic record of what awards had been won in which years. We all recognized the amazing diligence, hard work and talent that students displayed in earning these awards.  The choice was made to keep trophies representing our current EHS students as well as trophies from the past that we thought best exemplified the accomplishments of the music program. 

The trophies were let go for a number of reasons, including: student safety, operational functionality of the music room and plans of a lasting solution moving forward. The music classroom is now cleaner and safer, and it has more room for teaching, learning, and practicing.

Unfortunately, however, a good number of trophies were thrown into a dumpster, rather than offered o alumni or stored away some place safe. We know high-school memories are precious, and we now realize that disposing of trophies in a dumpster is not appropriate and does not at all represent the great value we place on the accomplishments of our students. 

We are very sorry this happened. Please know that the intention was never to dishonor the music program, but to allow for the continuation of the great legacy of music at Encinal High School. 

Moving forward, we are committed to commemorating the awards received over the years in some kind of display to be determined. We know that the hard work and success of generations of Jets band kids will not be lost, even as classroom conditions have been improved for current music students. We welcome your ideas on how to commemorate the achievements of our former Jets band students and promise to be more careful next time.

Again, we offer our most sincere apologies.

— Daniel Hurst, Principal; Tony Gennaro, Band Director; Rich Hall, Music Booster President

 

Editor:

Traffic calming and increased population density resulted in this crying over too much traffic. A very talented traffic engineer told us it would happen — Eugenie Thompson (“Local Weighs in on Infrastructure,” July 20, 2017). In my opinion the city’s plans particularly target one street and its residents with more traffic — Broadway — when it is already at capacity. 

I live on Broadway. I was getting out of my vehicle when a strong gust of wind violently opened the door. An 18-wheeler from the U.S. Postal Service came blasting down the street. No sooner had that truck passed me than he desperately applied the brakes because a group of kids were crossing the street. 

At that very same intersection my neighbors and I have requested a signal — I believe for the past 50 years. 

I ask Caltrans and the City of Alameda: Is a new signal just too expensive, not financially justifiable and would i interfere with traffic? But isn’t the life of four or five kids not financially justifiable? Go ahead and give your answer to their parents. 

In my opinion, the Alameda Police Department can and should request assistance from the California Highway Patrol as Broadway is Highway 61. When some of these truckers receive a nice speeding ticket — which do stay longer on their records — they will have a nice technical inspection. Watch their speeds drop overnight. 

 

— Joel Rambaud

Editor:

We would like to thank all who joined us at The Local coffee shop on Dec. 7 to share in the Season of Giving by making donations to Alameda Food Bank, Alameda Meals on Wheels, Alameda Point Collaborative, Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter and Midway Shelter of Alameda. 

Thanks to your infectious giving, we raised more money than we could have ever anticipated! It was a joy delivering the $5,877 raised for these wonderful organizations during a rainy holiday afternoon. Equally delightful was sharing the wonderful stories of giving; from children gleefully contributing their dollars to help the animals to those showing inspiring generosity. 

We would also like to thank the staff at The Local who happily served up almost 100 cups of cocoa and to Kathleen Kelly and family who lovingly baked delicious treats for all to enjoy. We can’t wait for next year’s Season of Giving! 
 

— Anne McKereghan, Golden Gate Sotheby’s Int’l Realty & Otto Wright, The Local

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