Some parents of students at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church circulated communiques this week worried that the decision announced by Principal Valerie Hardy last week that band and chorus will be removed from the school’s core curriculum will limit band and chorus opportunities for students. But according to Superintendent Peter Noonan in a letter to the News-Press Wednesday, such is not the case.
“The changes do not restrict a student’s ability to participate in music programs at Henderson,” he wrote. “To the contrary, we are relaxing the rigidness of ‘requiring’ courses across grades, meaning students will have more choices in our ‘Encore’ course offerings.” He added, “The change is driven by the Virginia Department of Education guidelines for physical education. Currently, Henderson’s 45-minute P.E. classes every other day do not add up to the VDOE guidance of 150 minutes per week on average…Chorus and band had been Henderson required courses. The increase in the P.E. requirement has tightened our limited hours and we’ve reached our capacity. A big win in the new model is that our music courses will be grouped more flexibly across grades, and give those taking year-long music classes the opportunity to select elective ‘Encore’ classes to explore other passions, as well.”