Commendations are in order to the Clare Athletic Association and all of its supporters for their very successful efforts to re-surface Brookwood Football Field. Privately raising the funds for such an endeavor in a small community like Clare speaks volumes to its commitment to interscholastic athletics.
I’d like to remind this community that it, as well, has had since 1953 a first class band program. That was 60 years ago and the year Lloyd Conley came to town. He single-handedly developed Clare’s band program into one Michigan’s most respected. It was my distinct privilege to join him in 1967 after which we enhanced what he had done alone. It is not an overstatement that for at least the next 20 years Clare’s High School Band was recognized as one of the best class “B” high school bands in this state. Although the school student numbers have diminished Clare’s bands are still among the best three bands in Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association District 9 stretching from Clare on the south to Alpena on the north and east to I-75.
I would wager that for each participating interscholastic athlete over these last 60 years that there have been at least 6 band member participants. A significant number of these have gone on to advanced music degrees as teachers and performers. Others are still musically active in community groups, church choirs, and private teaching.
My point is that it appears to me that athletic boosters and this community are more supportively committed to providing their athletes with appropriate performing venues than band, choir, and drama boosters are committed to provide the same for their kids. Because of this, Clare’s bands, choirs, and drama events must beg and borrow facilities from the athletic department for the presentation of their equally worthy performances. Add to this my experience for 35 years of teaching that the athletic department did not appreciate giving up its facilities for such use. Sometimes there was even hostility about it. And today there are more athletic events than I would have dreamed of just 20 short years ago.
So congratulations to this community and all of its supporters of interscholastic athletics. It is meritorious that you can and do “put your money where your interests are”.
But will supporters of the arts stand idly by interminably or some time soon join hands to work toward providing Clare’s school kids with interest and talent in the arts a suitable and appropriate venue like athletes have? The appropriate venue, by the way, is called an auditorium.
As I travel around I have seen the yard signs of supporters stating “Pioneers Are Leaders”.
Clare Pioneers of all interests and talents are leaders. Not just athletes. All deserve the very best. For those with interest and talent in the arts provision of an auditorium is 60 years overdue.