by Trenton Curtis – Staff Reporter
The music department will march.
However, instead of performing in Victoria, Canada this year, instead the music students will participate in the annual Lilac Festival torch lit parade in Spokane.
The annual Lilac Festival is a celebration that started in 1938. The festival runs May 18 to May 21, with the torch lit parade starting at 7:45 PM Saturday evening.
Due to a unanimous vote, the Kent School Board cancelled the music department’s annual trip to Victoria, Canada, where they usually march in the Victoria Days Parade. The trip was cancelled due to concerns regarding potential undocumented immigrants not being able to cross the border back into the United States.
Students are undecided whether the Lilac Festival will be a good substitution. Junior Megan Monohan said, “I think that it would an appropriate substitute however it won’t be the same since it is a very different experience. In a sense of performing in a parade, yes. But everyone will still have the sense that they were cheated. And I think that regardless of the parade, people enjoy Victoria more as a location.”
District executive director of communications, Chris Loftis said, “You cannot go on a field trip with 60 kids and come back with 59.” With this statement, the school board is acknowledging there is an undisclosed number of undocumented immigrants who attend school in the Kent District. The board made the decision to cancel the trip to Victoria because they did not want the undocumented students to feel excluded. “This is about equity not equality,” a board member said during an emergency meeting.
Several students in the music department have voiced their displeasure with the board’s decision. “To be honest, it’s more than just a bit heartbreaking” sophomore and trombone player Braden Ross said in an interview with the Seattle Times.
Sophomore Cayla Dreisbach said, “I feel that it’s really unfair for the KSD Board to not only cancel this trip because of ‘suspected’ undocumented kids but to also give different excuses each time we ask. They also took credit for the Lilac Festival that JU [John Urmenita] had to scramble to arrange and the KSD board didn’t touch any of the paper work, trying to cover themselves up. If illegal immigrants are smart enough to get into this country, they sure as hell will be smart enough not to leave, especially due to the recent political conflicts. They’re also thinking about defunding the arts so it’s just another step towards that I believe.”
Regardless of the location change, there are aspects of traveling with the band that will still make it a positive experience. Jason Thiel is still looking forward to “spending a weekend with all my graduating senior friends.”
Monohan said, “Well, it’s a torchlight festival, so I am looking forward to still playing the music. I think it has been very cool every year and that it is different than every other school.”