Save the Island Trees Music Department
I am an Island Trees graduate from the Class of 2007. I am writing to you on the behalf of Island Trees graduates all students past, present and future. It has come to our attention that numerous changes are going to be made to the teaching staff for the upcoming school year that are definitely not in the best interest of the students. The most concerning of these changes are those that are going to take place in the music department. There are numerous reasons why the changes will be devastating to the department. The main change I am speaking about is removing James Ingenito from his position as 9th and 10th grade band director. In this position he has served as such a tremendous role model and inspiration to all of the students who have had the privilege to have band with him. His superior playing skills and determination to always be the best he can be have motivated students to follow suit, not only in band but in other subject areas as well. Being under his guidance has made so many students both better musicians and better all-around people. We have seen him go through troubles both personally and musically, never get discouraged, and always come out stronger than he was before. He has directly and indirectly guided his students to make appropriate choices in life. Whether it is through leading by example or by direct advice he has been a consistent positive influence. I can speak to this on a personal note, including the numerous ways that Mr. Ingenito has positively influenced my life and the lives of those around me. In 5th grade I had a band director who is no longer a part of the music department now. He had a rather negative effect on the department in the sense of the motivation of the students and the size of the band. By the end of 5th grade a great deal of the band had dropped out. Mr. Ingenito was asked to pick up where the last director left off and help rebuild the diminished band. His positive influence and energy encouraged numerous students to come back and give band another shot. Many of these students wound up remaining in the band program through high school, and some even into college. By the end of middle school I was extremely excited to know I would have the privilege of having Mr. Ingenito as my teacher again for 9th and 10th grade band. Throughout my high school career, including summers volunteering at the summer music program, Mr. Ingenito and I developed a relationship similar to that of a family. He became one of my mentors and inspirations. Watching him inspire his students with his love for music and determination for success inspired me to not only go into teaching, but into music education. Without his influence, and also the influence from Mr. Greg Warnokowski, now the only high school band director, I would absolutely not be the person I am today. I would not have pursued a Bachelors Degree in music education, I would not be teaching private lessons, and I definitely would have not spent the past 9 summers teaching music at our summer music program. On the topic of Mr. Warnokowski, the situation he is now in is completely unfair and unreasonable. Mr. W is an outstanding band director who takes pride in the current program at the high school. He goes above and beyond each and every day for all of his students, and to put together a superior program rated in the top 100 of the country. Before these changes, Mr. Warnokowski was responsible for 11th & 12th grade band, tri-M, directs the pit band for the school musicals, NYSSMA lesson for his band students, 11th and 12th grade jazz band, the faculty concert and many more things. The two band directors shared responsibility for the marching band season including Newsday Marching Band Festival, homecoming, and parades. Mr. Ingenito conducts the 9th and 10th grade band, their jazz band, gives NYSSMA lessons, writes the drill for the marching band, writes a great deal of the arrangements for the faculty concerts, helps out with the pit band, and many more things. If these changes occur Mr Warnokowski will not only have to do all of these things on his own without help, but numerous other things will be added to his already full plate. He will now be responsible for a total of around 130 students ranging from 9-12th grade which will double the students that need lessons, double the amount of students he will have going to NYSSMA, and double the amount of students that require his help. Mr. Warnokowski is an absolutely fantastic music educator, but it is just not realistic for one person to be expected to manage that many students and additional tasks, and still maintain the superior reputation that this department currently has. I am sure that all of the students and parents who have signed this document have their own stories as to how Mr. Ingenito and the current music department have changed their lives. It would be a real shame for current and future students to not have the same magical, influential and life changing experiences that we were all privileged to have. Making these changes would not only leave the department short-staffed, especially the high school, but it could prevent students from realizing their full potential. We would like to ask that you reconsider your decision to rearrange the teachers in the music department.