Words inadequate

To the Vermillion community:

Words are inadequate to express our appreciation for your prayers, encouragement, and generosity since Mike's accident. Your overwhelming support has meant so much to our family.

Specifically, we'd like to thank the Roadhouse and Cherry Street Grille for the "Cowboy Fondue" dinner, the Knights of Columbus for hosting the benefit breakfast, Pro's Tip and Meals donations, St. Agnes School for the prayer-a-thon, and the USD community. Fearful of inadvertently excluding anyone, I hesitate to mention people by name. Please know how very much we appreciate all of your individual and collective efforts on our family's behalf.

We are grateful to the sponsoring businesses and organizations: Bank of the West, Campbell Supply, the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce, Cherry Street Grille, Conklin Distributing (Budweiser), Hart Beverage (Pepsi), Hy-Vee, Jones' Food Center, Knights of Columbus, KVHT-FM, Morse's Market, the Plain Talk, Pump 'N Stuff, the Roadhouse, Stewart Oil, St. Agnes School, the Silver Dollar, Thrivent for Lutherans, USD, VHS, Wal-Mart, WNAX, Yankton Beverage (Miller) and all the community members who have lifted up Mike and our family in your prayers.

When we moved to Vermillion, we knew it was a very special place with remarkable people. Our family treasures the friendships we have been blessed with and are overwhelmed by the assistance we have received. Thank you and God bless you!

Joni, Kelsey Jackson, Jerrod, Kylen, and Hailey Freidel


(Mike's address is Room 220, Madonna Rehab. Hospital, 5401 South St., Lincoln, NE 68506)

Confused by letter

To the editor:

I am writing in response to Mary Petersen's September 29 letter about the Vermillion High School Band. Over the past two days I have written and rejected several drafts of this letter, in tones ranging from angry to defensive to hurt, but I think I have finally settled on "confused."

I'm confused about why an adult community member who is reputedly an arts supporter would publicly insult student musicians. Perhaps that was not Mrs. Petersen's intent, but even veteran performers would be stung by criticisms like "embarrassing," "mediocre," and "significantly lacking" in musicianship. The students she saw and heard at the homecoming game were performing this year's marching show for the first time. (For the freshmen, it was their first field marching experience ever, having only parade marched as middle schoolers.) It is blatantly unfair to pass judgment on our entire band program based on one performance early in the school year. Maybe Mrs. Peterson could come to Region I large group contest, where our high school concert band has received 15 straight Division I ratings, or join us at the All-Band Extravaganza in April and enjoy hearing the progression of bands from beginners on up to high school. I believe she will see that we are indeed perpetuating Vermillion's "particular history of excellence in music."

I'm also confused about why someone with concerns about a school program would write to the newspaper instead of contacting someone who is actually connected with the school district. Instead of blindsiding the high school band director and his students in a public forum, why didn't Mrs. Petersen take the logical (not to mention considerate) step of sharing her concerns with him? Had she done that, she might have discovered that it is not unusual for band and chorus numbers to fluctuate from year to year and from class to class. She might have been surprised to learn that increased graduation requirements in South Dakota are negatively affecting enrollment in music performance classes all over the state. She might have been reminded that budget woes over the past several years in our district led to the reduction of one full-time instrumental and one part-time general music teacher, resulting in the elimination of fifth grade band and spreading all five of the remaining music teachers thinner.

Finally, Mrs. Petersen might have been informed that, unlike schools with highly competitive marching programs, we do not have a large staff of specialists to work with subgroups of students, nor do we rehearse through the summer or in the wee hours of the morning. Why? Because our students, in addition to being in band, are leaders and participants in sports, student government, vocal music, debate, drama, oral interpretation, dance team, Natural Helpers, scouting, and other organizations. Most are honor roll students, many are active in their churches, and some even find time to hold down jobs.

About this there can be no confusion: these young people deserve support and encouragement, and on those occasions when they may also deserve criticism, it should be delivered in an appropriate forum by someone who can do it constructively.

Becky Rider,

Vermillion Middle School Band Director

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