A Joliet West junior is hoping to rally others behind his cause: Getting some support for the school's band director.
Youjia Wang, 17, who plays flute for the West symphonic band, said he launched a Change.org petition on April 25. His request is simple, according to the petition:
"Hire a Second Band Director for the Joliet West Band Program."
"I began the petition to address a noticeable problem that I and my fellow students have noticed over the past few years," Wang told Patch last week. "The band program has grown substantially over the years and it will continue to grow in the future. However, the school has not provided enough support to accommodate this growth and Mr. Carroll, along with the band's resources, is stretched incredibly thin."
Wang said he believes too many demands are placed on band director Kevin Carroll, who last year
won the prestigious Golden Apple Award.
"When Mr. Carroll took over the Joliet West Band program in 1993, he led a band of approximately 70 students total," Wang writes in the Change.org petition. "Over the past 21 years, the program has experienced a tremendous amount of success and growth ... Currently the band program boasts approximately 200 members, three concert ensembles, two jazz ensembles, a marching band, and a pep band. This places a great deal of stress and responsibility upon Mr. Carroll."
Wang also cites funding issues, saying the school's band budget is not adequate for the ever-growing program, which has earned honors at competitions throughout the state. Lack of adequate instrument storage is also a problem, he said, and in the past, the school's concert band has been forced to borrow uniforms from the Troy Schools band program.
"However, the most pressing issue is the quality of the education that we, the students, are receiving," Wang said. "For his part, Mr. Carroll has done an exceptional job teaching all of his students for the past 21 years, as evidenced by his Golden Apple Award. Yet, we believe that our band program and education can be even better with another set of helping hands and ears."
According to the district, the staffing budget for next school year does not include another band director. The district's most recent report shows the band director's salary at $103,000.
JTHS Board of Education Jeff Pierson said that the board has already approved all personnel placements for the next school year, and an additional band instructor was not part of the recommendations for 2014-15.
"Although it may change for the 2015-16 school year," Pierson said.
Late last week, Wang said his goal is to get 500 signatures on the petition.
As of Tuesday afternoon, it had more than 250.
"All of the students and parents that I've reached out to have been extremely supportive," the teen said. "We've all been aware of the need to have another band director for a while now."
Wang said he and some other students are considering presenting the petition to the board of education at its next meeting, set for June 17.