Letters to the editor

June 20, 2005

School transfer makes no sense

To the editor:

The success of the Springfield Middle School's band and especially the jazz band has been a very positive aspect of the Williamsport community. During concerts, parades and competitions, these young musicians have displayed great talent and versatility.

For a middle school band to compete with and win high honors at high-school-level competitions speaks for itself. These performances were, in large part, due to Garman Bowers and his 20-plus years of dedication to the Springfield Middle School Band program. His inability to accept less than these gifted children had to give ensured high quality performances for our community and representations at competitions that we could be proud of.

This era of music excellence will undoubtedly come to an end with the involuntary transfer of Bowers. This announcement came to parents only 48 hours prior to the school year's end. At a scheduled band booster meeting on June 6, which the principal of Springfield Middle School was asked to attend, the issue of Bowers' transfer was brought to the floor for discussion.


In keeping with confidentiality issues, very little reasoning was offered by the principal for this decision.

When questioned about possible reconsideration, he did state that he would not support retaining Bowers as Springfield Middle School's band director. The band boosters were then encouraged to take their concerns to the School Board.

At the Washington County School Board meeting held June 7, approximately 40 band parents and students came out to show support and plead for Bowers' retention as band director. Four of the parents signed up to speak for the allotted three minutes. This would have been an acceptable amount of time had the board members chosen to listen and show some concern and compassion for the children instead of chatting amongst themselves, giving the impression of disinterest.

As a band booster parent, Washington County resident and active voter, I find the judgment against Garman Bowers without foundation and the actions of both the principal of Springfield Middle School and the board of education very disappointing. If there is a problem, work to resolve it within Springfield's walls.

Not only are we losing a dedicated, tenured teacher but a grave disservice is being committed to the band students and band program at Springfield Middle School.

L. Baker


Opinions stifled at board meeting

To the editor:

On Monday, June 6, an emergency meeting was held at Springfield Middle School among the principle and SMS Band Boosters and concerned parents. This meeting was held because of the forced transfer of Garman Bowers, who served as SMS band director. At this meeting, all concerned were told they could speak on Bowers' behalf during the June 7 Washington County Board of Education meeting at 7 p.m.

Upon hearing the dreadful news of the transfer, many concerned parents and citizens flocked to the board meeting, only to find the meeting had actually started at 6:30 p.m.and if one wanted to speak, one had to be signed up before 6:30! Because of this miscommunication, only three people were permitted to speak.

These three people were permitted only three minutes to speak and were told they could not mention Bowers by name, the transfer or anything pertaining to this matter. They could speak only of the band program.

As a further insult, many of the board members were talking to one another while those individuals spoke during their three minutes.

The board members obviously had already made their minds up and did not care about the masses of people who were there on Bowers' behalf. This behavior was rude, disrespectful and was against the very rules the board promotes for a classroom.

As I left that meeting with tears in my eyes, I was overwhelmed with how many people came out to support this wonderful band director.

Garman Bowers made the SMS Band Program what it is today. His dedication and hard work will be surely missed.

This is a tremendous loss and a waste of this man's talents. Springfield Middle School as well as Williamsport High School will be feeling the effects of this tragedy for years to come. As I write this, I still can't believe it. I am stunned and angry.

In closing, I hope the board will reconsider its decision. Bowers is responsible for turning lots of boys and girls into men, women and fine musicians.

Susan Garling


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