Tenacity: the quality of being persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired. Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Integrity: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values. Ownership: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one’s actions. Our school’s administration has declared these to be the “four core values” of IHS. However, contrary to these values, they have struggled to adhere to these qualities themselves in regards to music classes and GPA.
Since I was a freshman at Ithaca High School, I had always wondered why music classes weren’t incorporated into GPA. As a committed band student, I feel that the academic rigor of music courses is no different from that of any other discipline at IHS—we are assessed in sectionals and part checks, made to write analyses and reflections on each concert, and asked to practice and come prepared every day for rehearsal. I have found that the work done in music classes, while not traditionally academic, is as intense and important as any other course at IHS, and I saw no reason why my peers and I shouldn’t get any academic credit for the hard work we do.
To find answers and hopefully see changes made to better the situation, I decided to pursue getting school administrators to include music courses in our high school GPAs. I dedicated time and work in my junior year to speaking with various ICSD and IHS administrators to implement music courses into students’ GPAs. The previous Student Council officers and I had many meetings and conversations dedicated to this project, and we worked closely with the three performing arts teachers, Ms. Zawel, Ms. Zaryski, and Mr. Makin, with administrators, and with our fellow students to gather input and to propose our changes. Responses were unilaterally supportive, so we were eager to ask ICSD administrators to reconsider their longheld stance on the issue.
We tried to find out why music classes were excluded from GPA to begin with and who made that decision, and came up with nothing. The whole topic had essentially been swept under the rug, and even Ms. Zawel, who has been working at the high school for ten years, hadn’t even known about the issue until her third year teaching at the high school. After presenting all this information to the necessary administrators in the board building and the high school, in May of last year we received approval, and were excited to see the fruition of all of our hard work.
When checking to make sure that changes would appear immediately in the new school year, I was crestfallen to see the result—school administrators had completely ignored my request. I was maddened and shocked to discover that this hadn’t happened. After all, after demonstrating compassion by addressing the concerns of my fellow students, tenacity and ownership by pursuing my goal until the very end, and integrity by staying true to my belief on the matter, I felt that my goal of including music in high school GPA was very much in line with the core values of IHS.
ICSD’s inaction wasn’t tenacious or compassionate, and was the polar opposite of a demonstration of integrity or ownership. After all, dropping the ball on this project has consequences that affect more than a quarter of the high school’s student body. In a meeting with the chief academic officer, Ms. Coyle, I have been told that this will be resolved by the end of the first quarter so that students can have a full year of music classes included in their high school GPAs no matter what school year they are in. We’ll see how that goes.