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Play on: Southwest Middle steel drum band reinstated after facing cancelation

Southwest middle school steel drum band.png
Posted at 10:29 AM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 13:29:06-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) — A South Bay music program that faced its last note has been cleared to play on.

Southwest Middle School's steel drum band program and its mariachi program will be reinstated next year, after facing the possibility of being canceled. According to band director Keith Ballard, the Sweetwater District superintendent, board members, and the school decided Friday to reinstate the music programs.

Ballard told ABC 10News that he will oversee the program and begin the mariachi program at Southwest High from scratch. The mariachi program was cut in 2018.


In a statement, Sweetwater District said it continues to work with music staff on the program:

"The Sweetwater District continues to work closely with the music staff at Southwest Middle to provide support in enrollment strategies for the Steel Drum Band Program. Visual and Performing Arts programs play an integral part in the district for all students. We appreciate the collaborative community support and partnership to continue to develop the arts."

Last month, students, former program participants, and families rallied to call for the program to be spared from the chopping block. At the time, the district said it was cutting the program due to a lack of student enrollment.

During a school board meeting in May, students called for the program to remain.

"Having steel drum in your life, it's kind of a way to free yourself," a current student said.

"I cannot see music end like this," another girl cried at the podium.

"Music is a universal language that if we are cutting out from education, we are cutting ourselves short of our greatness," Daniel Ramirez, who participated in the mariachi program, said.