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Music makes its comeback to Forks High

By Joe Smillie, Forum Editor

 

It’s 7:30 a.m. and a dozen bleary-eyed Forks High School students are sleepily wetting reeds, greasing valves and testing the tone of the drum skins.

 

For the first time since the new school opened, music students are in the music room, working out a collective sound under the leadership of new music teacher Matt Kuka.

 

“This is a great, really dedicated group of kids,” Kuka said. “Even if it is 7:35.”

 

First lesson? Jazz Band starts at 7:30 sharp.

 

It’s a fresh start for the Forks High School band program.

 

With funding at a minimum, Quillayute Valley School District cancelled its music program in 2006.

 

When voters approved a two-year $626,348 property tax levy in 2010, part of their desire was that the funding be used to bring back the music program.

 

And, slowly, that has been building.

 

“We heard the message that music is really important to our community,” Superintendent Diane Reaume said. “And they’ve shown that with incredible support.”

 

Continuing the growth of the district’s music program was one big portion of the four-year levy the district presented to voters last spring. The funding measure, which will supply the district with $628,000 each year, passed with a wide margin.

 

The school district reintroduced music in the middle school and that education is now trickling up to the high school.

 

Kuka, a graduate of Central Washington University, was hired new this school year. Along with leading the middle school music program, he was charged with building that high school program, and says it’s coming along.

 

“This is a great bunch of kids,” Kuka said. “They’re really dedicated to putting it together.”

 

The group is coming along so well, with lessons learned over the past three years, that Kuka expects to be able to roll out a pep band for the last two home football games this season.

 

“And then we’ll be ready for basketball season,” he said.

 

The new school, opened in 2012, was built with a modern music room.

 

But, as it waited for music students to age up into high school, the room acted as host to math classes.

 

“It’s a great room. It’s got some amazing qualities to it,” Kuka said.

 

Kuka said he has received a warm welcome from the community as the teacher brought in to guide the young music program into the upper classes.

 

He is now splitting time between music classes at the high school and middle school.

 

“It’s been a really great place. There’s a lot of support here,” he said.

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