New HPHS Band Director Has Some Cleanin’ Up To Do

Tim Gunter, the new Highland Park High School band director, was the recipient of a surprise office redo. Can we get the guy a nanny cam?

Dear Band Family,
As I told you from the very beginning of our relationship together, we were, have, and are going to share everything that happens to us as a band family, whether the news is good or not.  Many of you have already heard of the vandalization of my office late last night or early this morning, since it was there for all to see as the day unfolded.  When I arrived a little before 7:00 am this morning, I first noticed the shoe polish on the windows of my office, signed SKA ’11, but the news got much worse when I opened the door.  Someone with a key had entered both the band hall and my office and completely trashed everything with toilet paper and several boxes of Lucky Charms cereal (grinding a lot of it into the carpet), including the mounds of cereal dust on my computer keyboard and other sensitive places in my office.  All of the drawers were completely filled with cereal.  I took a lot of photos for evidence and have attached a few of them for you to see.  While I am very unhappy with the behavior of the student or students who violated our band home, I am not writing tonight looking for sympathy.  I just think you need to see and hear what happened from your director.
I could write a lot of words tonight, but let me get straight to the point.  I have a plan for the growth of our band program, and am determined more than ever to see it through.  If the intention of the vandal(s) was to make me mad, they achieved that, but only to a point and not for the reason they think.  If the intention was to run or scare me away, they do not know me very well.  Challenges only fortify and motivate me to work harder than ever with the students and parents who want to achieve great things in the HP Band Program.  This sort of nonsense only gives me more focus and energy as we forge ahead with our plans to make HP a program of excellence in every way.  I still believe in the great potential of our students and know that great things are ahead of us.
The saddest part of the day was having to watch 99% of our student’s faces, as many of them took this personally.  Many apologized to me on behalf of whoever did this, which I appreciated very much.  That 99% of us had to deal with this really stupid act because 1% or less acted without thinking, or perhaps worse by believing that what they did was appropriate and cool, is not fair to the band that the vandals claim to love and defend.
Here is all I ask.  If you trust me to build your program, get on the train with me and let’s roll.  Building a program is a process that takes steps like everything else, some small and some large – lasting success is not built overnight.   If the students who did this plan to be in our band next year and are reading this email, I ask you to do one of two things:
1) come visit about whatever your problem with me is and let’s see if we can find some common ground to work together.  It is not a rare thing for a person who lashes out like this to make an attitude adjustment and become a successful and contributing member of our family.  This is the scenario I would prefer.  Or,
2) if you are dead set against what we are doing, there are a lot of us who are asking you to get off the train, because all you are going to do is hinder our progress down the road.  You didn’t just hurt me today – you took a shot at our band family and there are a LOT of people offended by your actions.
Classes may be coming to an end, but the process of building a band program never stops.  I encourage everyone to put this behind us and let’s move on to more positive issues.  I am excited about the days ahead and hope you are as well!  Go HP!!!!
Tim Gunter
Director of Bands
Highland Park High School

93 thoughts on “New HPHS Band Director Has Some Cleanin’ Up To Do

  • May 26, 2010 at 10:12 am
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    What is going on in band that people are upset about?

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  • May 26, 2010 at 10:59 am
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    Apparently most of the kids in band do not like Mr. Gunter, though the rest of the student body loved his motivational speeches at the pep rallies in the fall. I’m not sure exactly what it is about him they don’t like, but I know it was something is directly linked to him.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 11:26 am
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    Thanks @E. I definitely don’t see any love in any of those pics.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 11:33 am
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    Here’s another e-mail from Gunter that went out Monday, May 24. There’s no real connection to the incident above but it indicates 2 things.
    1. The guy sends some epic e-mails. I’m just sayin’
    2. There’s some tension in the air with the “Band Family”

    As a side note, I can’t get the classic movie line out of my head, “One time at band camp…”

    Anyway, here’s that other Gunter-gram:

    Dear Band Family,

    Most of you will not know anything about the pink cord issue, but let me explain my side of this story to everyone at the same time so we can put all of the rumors to rest.

    First, let’s identify what the pink cords are and are not. They are not awarded to every senior each year just because they have completed four years in band (or choir, orchestra, or theater). Because a senior does not receive a cord for graduation does not signify in any way that they are not recognized as being a member in band, nor are any of their past accomplishments, achievements and hard work any less important or cherished. The cords are awarded based on a set of criteria that a student must follow and achieve to earn the right to wear the pink cords at their graduation ceremony. And that is where this story sort of begins.

    I was not informed of honors credit or pink cords when I started the job last year. I am not blaming anyone and am not upset with anyone – I just was not told. It was January when the question first arose in band when a student asked about them quickly in rehearsal, but then under his breath, said something to the effect that I wouldn’t know about it since I was new and suggested that seniors should go to the counselors. A week or two later, another student came to the office to ask about Honors Credit. When I asked him about the past process, the answer was very vague. So I asked him to bring some more detail to me so I could know where to start asking about it. In a couple of weeks, he and another senior asked about it, and this time about the pink cords. Since their sense of urgency was a little higher this time, even though I still had no idea what they were talking about, I asked Linda Raya about it, and that is when I found out for the first time that a process for Honors Credit for the fourth year of band existed and that a set of criteria was supposed to have been set up at the beginning of the year (again, this is not about blaming Linda or anyone else – that serves no purpose). I was asked how many students had asked me about it to that point, and the answer was five. I then discovered that Orchestra, Choir, and Theater also had a process in place, although the Theater criteria is more stringent than the other two. I asked Peggy and Natalie for a copy of their criteria, and adapted what they use for the band (a copy is attached to this email). When I applied the criteria to the five students who had inquired about the cords, all of them received enough points to earn a pink cord for the year. A few weeks later, it crossed my mind that it might be more fair to check all of the seniors against the criteria to see if they qualified for the cords, whether they had asked about them or not. I asked if I ! could do that, received permission, and discovered that 12 students qualified – the cords were ordered. There has been some talk that I tried to keep this a secret from everyone else, but that could not be further from the truth. First, keeping this a secret makes no sense and is almost a career-ending decision, but second, why would I have announced the pink cords to a 300+ crowd of students and parents if I wanted to keep this a secret?

    Bottom line is this – if I had been told about this last summer, the criteria would have been established and this would not be an issue. I proceeded in good faith, following instructions and advice to take the steps I did, to try to get some seniors their cords this year, as opposed to no one getting them which would have been the easy way out. Today, it has been decided that the only fair thing to do this year is to award the cords to all of our seniors this year who want one, whether they met the criteria or not. Please understand that this is a one-time, one year decision. This will not be the case in future years, as students will have to earn their cords based on the set of criteria that is established and announced at the beginning of the year in August. This set of criteria will also be included in our handbook that is given to everyone at the beginning of a new school year.

    The following seniors are yet to get their cords – the cords are in my office (I am two short, but Linda ordered more today and asked them to be overnighted to us so they would be here in time):

    [student names]

    I apologize for whatever angst I have caused, but I assure you that it was not my intention to cause hard feelings. It is always my goal to honor the outstanding work of band kids whenever I can. I thought I was doing the right things, based on the information I received. We will get this right next year.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding!

    Tim Gunter
    Director of Bands
    Highland Park High School

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  • May 26, 2010 at 11:56 am
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    I am not sure why it took him as many as 5 students to ask him about the honors credits before he sought out the information himself. That seems like a lackadaisical reaction to me. It looks like the ball was dropped by the band director and the administration. Wouldn’t it be beneficial to the director and school for both parties to acquire all of the information and requirements for the band program BEFORE school even started? What a shame to have such drama going on. I hope it does not turn students off of wanting to participate in band.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 11:58 am
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    I read in the paper that the DISD teacher of the year is the Hillcrest High School band director, he sounds amazing. Can’t we go poach the guy? Lure him on down the road? I guess these pics wouldn’t be much of a lure….

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  • May 26, 2010 at 11:59 am
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    Isn’t there a saying one should use “if they can’t take a joke?”

    Methinks they’re taking themselves a bit too seriously in the band hall. Have they tested for leprechaun DNA?

    “They’re Always After Me Honor Credits!!” “Now with pink cord marshmallows.”

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  • May 26, 2010 at 12:01 pm
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    That’s good. Everyone gets a trophy. Poor Mr. Gunter. Yikes! Let’s just send all the teachers and administrators home and let the volunteer moms and dads run the school, give out the grades, pick the honors, pick the team. etc., etc. And we wonder why our kids drink.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 12:09 pm
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    My comment was in no way critical of the staff at HPISD. They do a fabulous job! I was being sarcastic and in rereading my post realized it could be taken in a way that I did not mean. I believe the parents should let the teachers and administrators do their job! I love Mr. Gunter and feel sorry that this happened to him. He’s been a great addition to our band. If this really happened because a couple of seniors were disgruntled about not getting/earning a graduation cord, then it’s just more of the same poor behavior on the part of our student body. With no consequences.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm
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    Management gurus would tell you that you need to have a complete job description, outline of duties, and instructions for performing the duties for each position. That description and outline is always added to and subtracted from as the job changes. When someone retires or quits that description and outline becomes the lifeline of the new employee. Looks like that job description and outline was absent or incomplete. That would create a lot of turbulance for this individual.

    I thought of this little management jewel with the Bradfield yearbook incident. You would think that the yearbook volunteer would also have a book with a description and outline of what worked and what didn’t.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm
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    The former band director was fired – for cause – and left quite abruptly. The former asst director left quite abruptly as well. The fine arts department at the high school in general could use a serious tune up. Unfortunately there is no principal in place to handle this, and the previous principal only addressed the issues if he was absolutely forced to. The arts are the red headed stepchitorn vs the golden children, the sports teams.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 2:00 pm
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    i agree. the sports teams are so overblown and annoying at HP. I’m sick of it. I’d rather we appreciated the arts. we need a GLEE club. haha

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  • May 26, 2010 at 2:11 pm
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    Kmom, I don’t always agree with you but go get’em girl! You are right on the money. I too really like Mr. Gunter, and it’s about time we have someone who expects great things and doesn’t just give trophy for sitting there. All our arts are dumbed down – witness the “rock” concert last week.
    This is the admin’s fault! These kids are capable of great things, and not just in choir/theatre – the favored arts.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm
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    Where did the high school principal go?

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  • May 26, 2010 at 3:35 pm
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    If the school/parents run off two band directors in a row, the district will have trouble filling the position with anyone they could possibly accept. Work it out.

    I heard the office trashing called “the senior prank,” as if doing some prank is a tradition and not a slap at the band director. Possible the students didn’t think about cereal pieces becoming cereal dust and doing damage.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 3:55 pm
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    Not a band parent, but we had friends at dinner who said that Gunter has an actual seating area in rehearsals called “the loser section” or the “failures” or something out of the Great Santini like that and if you have a doctors appt, have another UIL competition that you have to go to so you miss a day of practice for the UIL event, etc. you get told “go to the loser section.” Um and he’s surprised that people don’t feel respect for him?

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  • May 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm
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    Let’s address the real issue. Vandalism of a teacher’s office. What moronic, unsupervised little urchin(s) did this. Someone needs to be taught a lesson as to the proper way to address a concern. But as usual the little ska’s get away with a crime. If it happened in the football coach’s office the kid would be found and hung from the football field scoreboard.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 4:15 pm
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    OMG – I was in band for grades 7-11 and can’t imagine the “graduation cords” approach. In fact, I want to say WTF????

    This band director sounds awful awful awful. Band was a time of kids being SO insecure due to performance anxiety, constant pressure to get it right, move up a chair/hold your chair in tryouts. This, combined with the regular teenage angst AND a band director who sounds like a real idiot in the human relations arena is a recipe for diminished self-esteem.

    I had a sarcastic, egotistic band director but that was the extent of it. Awards were earned and respected, teamwork was encouraged, but fun always rewarded hard work. Administration involvement, standards, parental involvement, and hiring practices were different I guess. Hate to say “back in my day” but that’s what comes to mind.

    This guy’s emails are horrendous — he oozes insecurity combined with overcompensation…

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  • May 26, 2010 at 4:28 pm
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    At least the vandals didn’t do anything worse than cereal and toilet paper. They could have destroyed the whole place. Do they get the police involved with something like this? Maybe one of the local Tom Thumbs has someone on camera buying large amounts of cereal. And what about someone having a key to both his office and band hall? Rekeying an office should be part of the transition when a teacher leaves.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm
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    I am a former Highlander Band member (1971-75) under the direction of Bob Jordan and Hal Holbrook. Both of these men instilled PRIDE in all of us who were in the Highlander Band. We won numerous band competitions (marching and concert) and traveled to Salado, TX each year for the Gathering of the Scottish Clans celebration. Most of us who were in the Highlander Band LOVED it although there were some who did not and were not fans of Mr. Jordan or Mr. Halbrook. That said, NONE OF US would ever have even thought of doing something so malicious as what was done to Mr. Gunter’s office. We feared not only Mr. Jordan’s wrath but also the wrath of our parents!

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  • May 26, 2010 at 4:45 pm
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    CSI can solve a serial murder case in less than 60 minutes, including commercials! Surely, the UP Police can crack this caper and put the cereal criminals away.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 4:50 pm
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    There are a lot of high schoolers quitting band this year and Mr. Gunter hasn’t attemped to retain any of them. I’m talking great kids, not the vandals that did this. He’s only tried to recruit 8th graders, only speaks of what a great job he’s doing getting them. The real work is keeping the band together that he already has, let him admit how many are leaving, gave him address that problem and maybe he’ll finally see where the errors he’s made really are. If there were a principal, he would interview all the kids leaving and address all of the issues. And there ate a boatload of issues.
    @Steve, the principal quit. No big loss.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm
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    This again leaves the impression that things aren’t right with HPHS. Why wouldn’t the school inform the police immediately? It’s a clear case of trespassing and vandalism. Sweeping things under the rug (pun sort of intended)seems like a common problem these days. To answer the principal question, Mr. Cates retired this year. I would bet that he purposefully chose to let problems fester, not caring (enough) that he was leaving a mess for a new principal.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 5:29 pm
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    Hope we don’t have to hire the SMU band to play our games like before. You can imagine the comments…”Eww HP is so rich they hire their band”. Of course SMU didn’t have a Football team much, so it all worked out.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 6:32 pm
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    Senior (or apparently in this case, Junior) prank, anyone?

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  • May 26, 2010 at 6:42 pm
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    @Mom of Boys-I love you. We need to meet. I always agree with you. I am a teacher and I understood the sarcasm in your first post. No offense at all. I think everybody needs to keep in mind that this band director position is an extremely difficult one. Trying to work with kids and make them commit to something faithfully when they are so busy with everything else is a very difficult thing to do. In addition, Mr. Gunter has a lot of face time with the students and their parents. When the parents are so involved (which we teachers really appreciate), it can turn very political very quickly. It’s a delicate balance and it takes a complete master to achieve.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 7:26 pm
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    @GMOM. How many years ago that HP had to hire SMU band?

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  • May 26, 2010 at 9:49 pm
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    … the high school and the new principal will be able to fix things this summer.
    This on top of last thursday’s incident along with the high school’s yearbook issues, it seems like the high school is having some troubles maintaining order.

    That new principal will have a lot to deal with.

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  • May 26, 2010 at 10:31 pm
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    I 2nd Spock’s comments above. Bring back the “IDIOT STICK” and teach the kid’s about PRIDE, INTEGRITY and RESPONSIBILITY.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 12:46 am
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    I just love it when people who don’t have kids in the band and have absolutely no idea what is going on have all the answers. If you had lived through the previous band director, you and every one of the band kids would be thanking their lucky stars (no pun intended) for Mr. Gunter. I have not heard (and I am in a position to know) anything of the sort that “There are a lot of high schoolers quitting band this year and Mr. Gunter hasn’t attemped to retain any of them.” Define “a lot” would you? There were almost 300 people in attendance at the band banquet last week. Does that sound like a bunch of disgruntled students and parents didn’t attend? I don’t think so, considering there are only about 100 band students currently. After getting out my big chief tablet and pencil and doing a little cyphering, that sounds like almost every kid and at least 2 parents for every band kid were there. Wonder just who is getting run off with that kind of attendance at a non-required event? Mr. Gunter brings an enthusiasm that has been sorely missed to the band program and raised the entire school spirit. Have you ever seen the football dads stand up and sing along with the band before this year (other than the school song and fight song and even that was sketchy)? I don’t think so.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 12:52 am
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    @ Bill — there’s no “loser” section or anything similar. He has been incredibly decent to several kids who had conflicts and issues.
    As far as the long emails he sends out – I’m just thankful to get information. It took over 5 emails from me to a “regular” classroom teacher to get a response about the lack of grades being posted on the gradebook viewer. Really? Do you actually think it’s appropriate to deride a teacher who’s attempting to include parents in their child’s program? Wow.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 7:16 am
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    Apparently, Highland Park High School and its students are out of control. While I blame this mostly on the parents, the school has to accept it share of blame in failing to discipline students and maintain order.

    We pay way too much in taxes to that school district to have it run like a country club for naughty children.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 9:18 am
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    As you read all the comments posted about this incident, we should realize that portions off all of them are probably correct. From the perspective of a long time Scotts fan, the kids/parents had problems with Cruz (he’s gone), the kids/parents had problems with Weisberg (he’s gone), and now after year 1, there seems to be a riff with Gunter. The previous poster was right in saying that our band job will be harder and harder to fill if these problems continue. HP is a great place, with great kids ang great parents. We all know, however, that we can be an interesting bunch to deal with. Here’s an idea: how about letting these people do their jobs and support them? We might actually keep a band director for more than a couple of years.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 9:54 am
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    @N.F. I think you’re generalizing when you say that the school and its students are out of control. I attend the high school and I have no problem following the rules and staying away from things like alcohol. And it’s not like I have no friends and never have social activities. I just have the right group of friends. So I’d appreciate it if you would not make comments that reflect so poorly on the entirety of the school. Thanks!

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  • May 27, 2010 at 10:13 am
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    @ N.F.,

    Agreed, parents feel entitled, raise kids to feel entitled, and good luck to any teacher who stands in their way. A town full of experts is what we have here, just coach Kindergarten sports and you’ll see where it all starts.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 10:14 am
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    I agree with your last comment, N.F.

    I think this adds further argument that we need someone with a strict approach to discipline as principal at the high school.

    I still vote for Bohac.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 10:18 am
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    Who is “Scott” and why are you his “long time” fan?

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  • May 27, 2010 at 10:20 am
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    If I had to deal with today’s crop of spoiled parents and spoiled students, I’d quit too. What’s worse, we no longer have school boards of exceptional leaders who know how to oversee a small district of one high school, one middle school, and a handful of elementary schools.

    This is a vicious circle headed toward mediocrity and mendacity. The parents are the ones who can break the cycle and actually bring sanity and discipline back to HPISD.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 10:45 am
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    Kmom @ May 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm
    The former band director was fired – for cause – and left quite abruptly. The former asst director left quite abruptly as well. The fine arts department at the high school in general could use a serious tune up. Unfortunately there is no principal in place to handle this, and the previous principal only addressed the issues if he was absolutely forced to. The arts are the red headed stepchitorn vs the golden children, the sports teams.

    In response to this nonsense:

    The fine arts at this high school in regards to the choral program and theater are in great hands. We do not hear about these types of issues in Mrs. Waters, Steinbergs, or Mr. Masters classrooms. So as to your blame on the ” fine arts” check your facts before writing your statements.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 11:20 am
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    All of the kids quitting band were in attendence at the band banquet, as were their parents. They are good kids and it was the right thing to do. Some of the kids quitting won awards. It’s absurd to say that all is rosy in the Highlander Band – it’s not. The issues with Weisberg were extreme and allowed to go on far too long (thank you Mr. Cates). The administration thought that just getting rid of the huge problem that was Weisberg was all they owed the “band family”, so without any attention or supervision, the band stumbled along all year with mistakes and problems left to fester and stew. Of course it’s fixable – maybe even with Mr. Gunter at the helm – but not without administrative intervention, and with changes made to correct the problems. Get the count – how many kids quit band this year? Not middle schoolers – high schoolers.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm
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    Choir and Theatre I’m sure have issues but frankly it’s easier to sing than to play tuba or violin. Really.

    As for the “loser” section, I don’t think it is right to call it that, but if any of you are in sports, you know what happens there. Even in middle school, if you miss a day of offseason for a doctors appointment, you have to SIT OUT on friday’s dodge ball game. On THe sidelines. In girls basketball, if you miss for excused appointment, the coaches make you run sprints til you puke. REALLY. in 7th grade. So by comparison, this seems tame.

    Gunter has great vision and like many of our new coaches, he is bringing up the younger talent. Who can blame him? Let’s support him, and if your band kid really wants to have that PINK cord, then he needs to do the time and practice and take it seriously.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm
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    @ artsadvocate – Choir and Theatre I’m sure have issues but frankly it’s easier to sing than to play tuba or violin. Really.

    Your comment brings to mind the old joke that goes “With friends (advocates) like you, who needs enemas?”.

    @ Avid – brief, simple, and well-played.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm
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    EVER calling a student a “loser” or personally degrading a student over something like an absence should be grounds for firing for the teacher or employee engaging in such conduct!

    We’re not talking about competitive sports, here. We’re talking about band and orchestra!

    I strongly suspect Gunter was FULLY vetted before being hired by HPISD. While that’s no excuse for an office being vandalized, it does explain some of his very ‘peculiar’ predilections.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm
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    @Spock -you’re absolutely right. Mr. Jordan wasn’t a “oh, let me hold your hand” director at all. You either wanted to be in band or didn’t. If you did, you met X criteria and Y expectations. Anything less was a failure on the student’s part, not his. He was a professional director and expected his students to take direction and act decently. Nothing less would do, and there were never any lengthy wah-wah notes sent to the students or parents.

    If the issue is Gunter, say goodbye.

    If the issue is students’ attitude, an adjustment is needed PDQ.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 4:53 pm
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    @ Hopefully

    what issues did the high school yearbook have? could you be referring the the bradfield thing? that is an elementary school, so maybe thats not what you’re talking about

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  • May 27, 2010 at 4:55 pm
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    @kmom — since you are adamant that band students are dropping like flies and suggest we get a count — do you know the count of high schoolers who are leaving the band? I would be really interested in an actual factual bit of information in any of these comments.

    Nobody said everything with the band was “rosy” I dare say there is no organization where everybody thinks everything is “rosy.” What i don’t hear (or read) is what’s the complaint? I’ve re-read every post and I haven’t seen one solid “fact” or even simple conjecture as to the reason these kids are allegedly quitting.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 5:03 pm
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    “Scott” fan says “now there seems to be a riff with Mr. Gunter.” Can anyone tell us what the problem supposedly is other than one stupid kid did something stupid by “wrapping” his office (and unwisely broke out the Lucky Charms which made a real mess).

    So now (according to these posts) there’s a problem with Mr. Gunter, the band, the fine arts curriculum, the principal, the administration, the high school, its students, the parents, and apparently the entire community because our kids are spoiled and have an ill-directed sense of entitlement…. Good grief.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm
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    Jarod Waters. Are you sure you’re a doctor? You pop joints. Not a doctor in my book. But it’s cute that you want to sign your name like that on a blog.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm
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    Hunter Smith is disappointed in whoever chose to commit this heinous crime.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm
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    I don’t have High Schoolers yet but have been here a long time as both a student and parent. Not knowing this situation or the high school scene personally, here are a few observations from what I’ve seen and heard:

    1. The HP Band is larger than I’ve ever remembered. It also appears to involve a broader crowd within the student body. I remember a time when the ‘band’ was a ‘jazz ensemble’ of about 8 musicians that stood around microphones set up on the field. They sounded good but knowing (and displaying) that that was the entirety of the HP band program was embarrassing. Whatever the current issues are, the band is WAY better than its been in a long long time. SO, get over your personal differences and move on to bigger and better things.

    2. Mr. Cates seems to have been either a very weak leader or asleep at the wheel. Too many people have pointed out his inability to address and correct conflict. Unfortunately the effects of his shortcomings will be felt for a while and a strong leader is greatly needed. I wonder how many of the issues we are hearing from the high school could have been avoided had a better leader been in place?

    3. This continues to be a great community and school district. If we have a flaw, it’s that we over protect our children. Eventually, like it or not, our kids will grow up and need to face life (and its hard choices and consequences) on their own. These are the years where we need to let them fail, pick themselves up and move forward with us there to guide and encourage. Working through tough situations builds stamina and courage and we are robbing our kids of the experience.

    I highly recommend ‘Too Much of a Good Thing’ by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 6:15 pm
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    I applaud the resiliency and courage of Tim Gunter, our fearless leader of the HP Fighting Scoties’ Band. I would like to leave this forum with a quote of inspiration.
    “When the going gets tough, H. “The Train” Smith does work.”
    and
    “Keep your friend’s close, but your enema’s even closer should you need one”

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  • May 27, 2010 at 6:18 pm
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    Under the heading of “what do I know, but I really wish everyone involved in this band issue the very best” I offer the following: Has anyone’s position, situation, etc. been degraded if they simply do their job to the best of their abilities, work extraordinarily hard at doing this, and keeping one’s mouth shut? I’d say “no.” Of course, it sounds like everyone needs to let bygones be bygones in this — however hard this may be to do for each individual involved — and start anew, with a fresh attitude informed with, dare I say, love, forgiveness, and a spirit of “let’s all turn the other cheek”? What could possibly be wrong with this. Of course, this won’t solve all the past problems nor mollify those who have the red-ass about all this, but doing more of the same (vandalism, sniping, talking behind others’ backs, etc.) has and will never work to get the band program where it needs to be. I wish there were a magic wand to use to make it all better for everyone. But, we all know there’s no such thing — they exist only in fairy tales. But, we all exist in the real world, of course. Please give the band director the best that you’ve got to help him, to lead him, to inspire him, etc. to do better. You’d want the same for yourself if you were in his shoes. He deserves no less from you. Talk is very cheap and hurtful. Kind actions help others and society … and your kids in the long run. And maybe an apology of some sort to the band director, who seems to be doing his best, wouldn’t hurt either. Even if you don’t mean it, it make him feel better, which, in turn, would make him perform better at his task of leading children (your kids possibly). Thanks for reading for whatever it’s worth!

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  • May 27, 2010 at 7:23 pm
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    @ Seriously

    actually I’m aware of the Bradfield thing and no that’s not what I’m talking about. Although it’s not at such a grand scale issue, students at the high school are upset because quotes were published in the yearbook that were never said. I believe the yearbook staff is dealing with this accordingly so as of right now it’s blown over. It was one of the things that never fully made it on the community’s radar so yes it probably doesn’t mean anything now. When I wrote that comment it did seem troublesome however.

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  • May 27, 2010 at 10:40 pm
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    Well – let’s start with the morons who have no connection to the band and no first hand info thereof. They should get a life since they apparently have nothing better to do than bad mouth decent people who are doing a fine job. And then, their hands should be broken so they cannot humilate themselves by posting moronic crap on a public blog.

    But, I digress! Mr. Gunter is doing a fine job. I have a child in the high school band and the middle school band. I do have first hand knowledge and his performance is excellant. Suffice to say, the last band director was, well I’ll be polite, a “POS”. Frankly, Mr. Gunter is a big relief for those of us who do have children in the band and who are actually involved and pay attention.

    With respect to the office being trashed – Mr. Gunter is rightly indignant. I read his email and discussed it with my child and I can say his reaction was well measured and the Class of 2011 is appropriately upset at whomever did this. It is fairly well certain a senior or seniors created this mischief. (Any self-respecting junior would have written SKAXI [pronounced skacksee], not SKA 11) Regardless, both Mr. Gunter and the band will get over this mischief. And, for certain, there will be more – there always is, it is kids for goodness sakes. I recall when we put a snake in my 7th grade english teacher’s desk – and I still — well mind you it wasn’t pretty for a few minutes.

    Real mischief is burning down a teacher’s office or pulling a firearm on a teacher. I have seen these first hand. As such, ceral does not count as a real problem except to the poor janitor – although some younger park cities’ sibling(s) missed his or her fruit loops.

    Congrats to all the band members who did such a fine job this year and thanks to Mr. Gunter and his staff. The band is moving in the right direction for the first time in a long time. For those that don’t believe it, please come to some of the concerts next year. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    ps. only 2 seniors left the band this year.

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  • May 28, 2010 at 12:22 am
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    as entertaining as all of these comments have been, it seems they have been rather unproductive..

    coming from the perspective of a current band student, here are the concerns:

    While Weisberg was short-tempered and at emotionally abusive, he was a fantastic director. Ask any kid in the band and they will tell you the same. We played incredible music, and we played it well. So, having such a strong band director in the musical sense, our standards were incredibly high.

    While Mr. Gunter’s music choices were challenging for us, the majority of us are quite disgruntled at the fact that we were not able to play the music well. at all. This was the first year that i was actually embarrassed for people to hear us play. I have completely lost respect for the UIL system for giving us straight “1”s (the highest score), because the music we played was not deserving of that.

    Our lack of excellence is a direct result of the inadequate preparation we received. Most rehearsal time was wasted discussing “business” which could all be found in his very detailed emails. It was further wasted on excessive warming up. There were days when literally 1/2 of our band class was spent reviewing scales. I nearly hurled.

    When we finally did get around to playing our performance literature (usually the last 15 or 20 minutes of class) time continued to be wasted. Rather than actually practicing a difficult passage or transition, Mr. Gunter would talk about it for excessively long periods of time.

    So, one of the most prominent sources for our dissatisfaction is simply disappointment. We know our potential and, although our scores did not reflect it, it was humiliating to preform under-prepared music.

    In addition, we students feel like our input is completely ignored. From the simple minutia, to the band slogan, we have felt ignored. It is tradition for the seniors to come up with a few possible slogans and then vote on them. However, for this upcoming year the seniors were given three options, all construed by mr. gunter. Unfortunately the options were all ridiculous (i.e. “Rootin Tootin Band”. ugh…..

    While these are two legitimate reasons for our disliking Mr. Gunter, I feel that a great deal of it comes from simply not liking change. We have our traditions, we have our way of doing things, and it’s difficult to have someone completely new come in and try to change that.

    All in all, Mr. Gunter needs to work on his stuff, and the students need to be more open to having things be different.

    By the way, there is no such thing as “the loser section”. That’s just ridiculous.

    and lastly, Mr. Gunter, when someone pulls a prank on you, you don’t ignore it, you don’t get angry… you get even. This was not a personal attack. It was simply some kids, whoever they may be, overwhelmed by their excitement about the summer and perhaps their new stati as seniors. (assuming the pranksters were juniors). You are doing a fine job, especially considering the chaos you walked into. In my opinion, you may consider being more open to student input, and restructure your rehearsals to maximize time. Every last detail of your emails do not need to be reiterated during band class. (Perhaps this is why no one reads them… because you read them to us in class). The way I see it, if they don’t read the email, they don’t get the information, sucks. You are dealing with highschoolers, but we’re not illiterate, and we’re not babies. Treat your students like adults and maybe they will act like adults.

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  • May 28, 2010 at 3:42 am
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    When I was in the band in the early 90s there were a few fellows that were rather destructive to the band hall. It goes with the territory it seems but this is over the top to say the least.

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  • May 28, 2010 at 8:43 am
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    anonymous — your email is well-written and well thought out so thank you. I agreew with most of what you say and I certainly understand that hearing the same thing you can later read in an email is frustrating. However, you may be the exception and not the rule regarding how many of your fellow band members actually read those emails and how much sinks in. SOME people (not you of course) need to read things and hear things for maybe a few of them to sink it!
    You are dead wrong, however, to be embarrassed by the way the band sounds. I’ve been to every football game and every concert. It was a little shaky at first, but consider that the upperclassmen were a smaller ratio than normal after the disaster that was Mr. Weisburg. That problem quickly went away and the band sounded great by the end of football season and is terrific now.

    Apparently you disagree with Mr. gunter’s teaching style (i.e., playing scales until you want to “hurl”). I wonder how many years of advanced instruction Mr. Gunter has with respect to the art of teaching music? And you and the other band kids have how many years of college musical insruction and how many years leading college-level marching bands? While you may not understand and certainly do not appreciate what he is doing maybe, just maybe, you should let him be the instructor given that he’s probably had more years of schooling that you’ve been alive and certainly been conducting college-level bands longer than you’ve been alive. Anonymous, if you’re my daughter in the band, forgive me. However, there’s a reason the school district hires professional, educated instructors and doesn’t let the students decide how much time should be spent on scales v. other practice.

    Hang in there. For the first time since I’ve been going to HP games (and that’s been 26 years), the band got as many people to sit in their seats for the half-time show as the Belles. Who would have thought that? It’s your Senior year. Be part of the solution — I bet you if you went and talked to Mr. Gunter he would listen and explain his methods to you. Maybe he is treating you too much like children but maybe he doesn’t have a good feel yet regarding the difference between a college-level student and a 9th grader (who may still be 13 years old and probably REALLY needs to practice their scales). Make a suggestion, how about a Freshman Clinic or something where they can play scales until they dream about them and save all you poor frustrated seniors and juniors who, in theory, don’t need quite so much practice on your scales.

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  • May 28, 2010 at 8:59 am
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    @Anonymous-
    What an excellent post. I am a mom of a graduated band member of the Weisberg era, and I couldn’t agree more with your comments about him. He was a little crazy, but he prepared you, and your band sounded like a professional ensemble. I encourage you to send this message to Mr. Gunter. Regarding the band traditions, Mr. Gunter has enough to do without having to reinvent every aspect of the band program, and the traditions mean so much to the students. I had heard about his long-winded rehearsals. It’s important to make the most of every rehearsal minute. Gunter should understand that better than anyone.

    @artsadvocate: you have either never played an instrument, or have never had a voice lesson in your life. It isn’t easy to do any of it if you are doing it well. You may be an advocate for the arts, but if you aren’t an actual “artist”, or if you’ve never pursued a professional music career you should avoid making ignorant comments.

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  • May 28, 2010 at 9:21 am
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    @mom- Good thoughts and intentions. However, band rehearsal really isn’t the time to practice scales, and talking too long to a large group of high school students is the #1 best way to lose their attention and respect. Mr. Gunter’s problem isn’t just that he is new, but that he is a little stubborn on the listening end. Case in point: waiting so long to deal with the pink cord (ridiculous) fiasco. He is great at communicating and rousing up students and parents for pep rallies and games, and that’s great. However, it’s the work that goes on behind the scenes that produces a sound that everyone can be proud of. It is normal to need an hour of practice for every one minute of performance. When put in that perspective, it is easy to see why rehearsal minutes are so important. I agree with @anonymous: if the student misses out on something that was in the email, then too bad so sad. The next time he/she will know to pay attention. That’s the real world. There are lots of other ways to handle that issue, than having to spoon feed the information to the students.

    It’s very difficult to find the qualities of excellent musicianship and good interpersonal skills in one person. Most really excellent musicians place a higher value on musical skill, and do not place as high a value on relationship building. They often end up alienating parents and students. But, the great communicators tend to value relationship over product.

    I think Mr. Gunter can overcome the issues the students have without sacrificing his strengths. For the students who are really serious about music, they have to understand that they will not get the serious challenge through a high school band, but they can supplement through private study and other activities.

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  • May 28, 2010 at 9:27 am
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    Mr. Gunter was on the faculty of the Universtiy of Arkansas for 15 years and was Director of Athletic Bands and Assistant Professor of Music. The Director of Concert Bands was and is W. Dale Warren, Professor of Music. Perhaps Mr. Gunter was hired because HPHS has never been succesful in marching contests. I’ve been told by many that a 4A school must have at least 175 members to get to Area Finals and this band marches something less than 110. You don’t grow a band program by running-off good players.

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  • May 28, 2010 at 11:57 am
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    I am a former HP Band member, senior ’75. I am also a band director. It seems that there is a very qualified band director working for Highland Park High School. Everyone should let him do his job. Help him do it by doing what he asks you to do, not by giving him lots of conflicting advice. His emails only indicate to me that he is on the defensive. If he could be just a little MORE “stubborn,” he could accomplish what he knows needs to be done without feeling like he needs to spend so much time defending himself. Everyone just needs to adapt to his teaching style while he learns how to make the most of being in the HP community in his own way. Linda Raya was one of my teachers. She’s seems to be a great mentor for him.

    It also seems that the former band director was also qualified. I do’t think that being nice is a necessary part of being a band director (though, of course, I’m very nice). I have performed in orchestras and know that large music ensembles are some of the few environments where it is quite appropriate for one person to have have quite a lot of authority over others. It is impossible to direct a large music group by committee. A big part of learning to play music is learning to do what they are told with alacrity.

    The I Ching says that before one can lead, one must learn to follow. Most musicians are great followers as well as leaders. We look to the ones who hired us for direction and have no problems doing what is asked of us, even if it doesn’t make that much sense to us. We expect the same when we lead others.

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  • May 28, 2010 at 9:56 pm
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    If it is true that Gunter has a “losers section” or any similarly named area that degrades students, he needs to be fired immediately.

    This is an intolerable error in judgment and the principles of teaching.

    This isn’t even a subject for discussion.

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  • May 29, 2010 at 4:06 am
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    Since the internet is providing an anonymous soap box to jump on, it’s time to let another current band member talk.

    There are many complaints the kids have about Gunter, and if you haven’t been hearing them, then you either don’t have a kid who is honest enough to express them, or you don’t have an open enough relationship with your kid. As a student, I could not tell you a single person happy with Gunter other than those who have never had anything other than him. (Freshman) I am a child of the Weisberg era, in fact I’ll be open enough to say that I am a recently graduated senior who was with Weisberg from the start, so I know him better than any other generation. He was an ass, for lack of a better term, but he was honest and he pushed you to your maximum potential. Some people didn’t like that because it turned into a program that did drive some people out, and often put results before feelings. After three years, the students and parents became fed up and he was “asked to leave”. Now I won’t agree with you on saying he was a “POS” director like someone said above, but I can agree that at times he did make you feel like a “POS”.

    Gunter is the complete opposite. He was HIRED because of that. The administration was looking for someone who could be friendly to students, which is what they found. At the cost of being a fantastic band. The parents who said the band was great at the last concert obviously must be blinded by the love for their kids, or never heard us before, because as the above student said, we are not challenged. We played “America the Beautiful” at our last concert. While it is a great piece of music, it was something I last payed six years ago as a sixth grader. It was embarrassing. I also agree with the above student’s opinion on our UIL scores, because the entire band did not expect straight ones.

    But I feel that the most disgust with Mr. Gunter does not come from musical incompetence. The only thing worse than someone who chastises you for your flaws like Weisberg, is someone who just chastises you without telling you why. Gunter is simply that: passive aggressive. There were several occasions this year were the man would be mad about something and not a single person in the band would know or understand why. He is a man who bottles up his emotions and releases them later at inappropriate times. The pink cord saga is true, regardless of what his email says. I was given one without meeting the criteria the first time and I feel that was because I was one of the students on good terms with the man. That is why his band officers for the year “failed” him, because he creates such obstacles for people to jump over that it just becomes not worth it to deal with them.

    Since people on this board are demanding proof, I’ll throw two examples at you. At the beginning of the year, the seniors came up with the slogan “Go Big or Go Home” for the band poster. It was a slogan to show that we were serious about band, and you better bring your game face or you might as well go home. Mr. Gunter didn’t like that because it sent the wrong message. “Why is anyone going home?” was his direct quote I believe. Why anyone would read a band poster and take it as a direct insult is beyond me and shows how he picks little stupid things to fight about. A second example is the actual weekly officer meetings Mr. Gunter used to hold. Apparently he was tired of sharing power and “phased” them out. (Each week would be postponed to the following week until they disappeared completely) It seems to follow his solution to other things by sweeping it under the rug. The punch in the face was his speech months later about how the year’s leaders “failed” him and it needed to be restructured for next year.

    As for the prank, it’s time to lighten up people. People snuck into an office, put cereal in a desk and you’re wanting to call the police? I’d hardly call it vandalism, nothing was broken or stolen, and nothing can’t go back to the way it was before. The people could of stolen something important if they really hated the band/Gunter but truth is that they don’t. They were in a position to do serious damage and they put cereal in a desk. They’re just giving him a hard time. A similar prank was pulled on Weisberg last year where his entire office was wrapped in saran wrap and moved around. It’s part of being a kid, and getting back at your teachers as an adult said before. Though it’s good to see that a thousands spent on security cameras went to good use (haha).

    Let me share some thoughts I’ve had about this year and what to do. Being someone very close to him on his officers, it’s clear to see that he wants to do things differently. The band is a traditional program if I’ve ever seen one, and they don’t take lightly to change. After years of getting yelled at and being taught through strict discipline, not having that suddenly has caused all students to lose their interest as well as their behavior. You want people to stop being late Mr. Gunter? You need to call them out just like Weisberg did. It’s time to realize that you can’t have a program run smoothly your way instantly, you have to change things over time. Maybe things will be fine in three years when all of the Weisberg kids are out and the remaining students don’t know any better.

    Well there you have it, the ramblings of a student who’s band career ended with less than a bang.

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  • May 29, 2010 at 4:11 am
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    And as for the…”losers section”, that’s completely false. There is no such thing.

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  • May 29, 2010 at 2:34 pm
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    From reading these postings, it’s quite clear that the band members are better writers than the Palladium fiasco kids.

    I was beginning to get extremely worried about the quality of an HPISD education after reading the “writings” of current students about that incident.

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  • May 29, 2010 at 11:25 pm
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    Guess what…..Its just high school, none of this really matters. Nothing I did in high school as far as experience, has nothing to do with what I am pursuing. None of the theater, band or choir experiences I had helped me achieve the place I am today. I think you all should get over yourselves, because you obviously have too much tim on your hands. Get a life, and worry about yourself instead of this stupid band incident.

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  • May 31, 2010 at 8:19 am
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    Second period band had a ‘losers section’ in April – I’m surprised the two first period band students weren’t similarly ‘on display.’ (Mr. Gunter’s email msg to 300 people said 12 students failed.) The directors’ justification was that those students would not be playing at the concert and sightreading contest and they needed to hear only the ones who would be playing in order to prepare adequately. That sounds appropriate, on the surface. But – were these students seated in their sections, simply not playing? Or – seated in the back of the room? Or – allowed to practice for their upcoming audition in the practice rooms? Or – allowed to go to the Library to study? NO – they were put in the corner in the front of the room by Mr. Gunter’s office – on display for all to see precisely who had an incomplete, who didn’t meet academic requirements or who was participating in a different UIL competition the day of the contest.

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  • June 1, 2010 at 7:46 am
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    @ HP ex “None of the theater, band or choir experiences I had helped me achieve the place I am today. ”

    Though my current profession has nothing to do with the arts, I can never imagine making a statement like this. They seem so ignorant – almost fighting words.

    Band is important. Choir is important. Theater is important. Belles are important. Cheerleaders are important. The list goes on and on. These are the places where we learned to work together as a team. Even if a child is featured in a play or a song, there isn’t only one star. Both talent and hard work are rewarded. I had friends through these groups that I never shared any other class with because of age or whatever. I gained confidence and had an outlet at school that wasn’t strictly academic. I also gained in cultural knowledge.

    I think all of that matters. I think all of that helped me get to the place I am today.

    But, hey, maybe I’m wrong. Let’s just go with your perspective and get rid of the arts – too much drama. None of it really matters anyway.

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  • June 2, 2010 at 6:50 pm
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    This particular prank pulled by four of our illustrious seniors (with very important band board member Moms) was not funny. It might have been funny if they didn’t pour ground up Lucky Charms into each and every file in the poor guy’s office which was a reference to his height. Balloons maybe, or rearrange his furniture like they did to Weisberg, but not cover every single thing including his keyboard with ground up food. It is interesting that you are publishing Mr. Gunter’s emails verbatim, written to the band students and parents, of which you are neither, Merritt. These four seniors owe Mr. Gunter an apology (which he will never get). If he was a jerk he would have made a big deal about it. Instead, he is turning the other cheek which you PCBC folks are so fond of preaching, and you are making fun of him. All you bitching parents need to get off of your computers and go talk directly to the man if you have an issue. His door is always open, and unlike his predecessor, he’s nice. As for Anonymous who wrote quite a bit above…I agree with absolutely everything you said except for the harmless prank idea. Mr. Gunter was humiliated by this prank. He does need to step up the expectation level a whole lot if he wants to have a great run here at HP. There does need to be some fear of push ups or laps or just getting called out or these kids won’t produce. The freshmen he tried so hard to baby were exactly that..babies. They didn’t learn their music and they acted like they were in charge of everything. After all he has been through this year I think Mr. Gunter is open to hearing about the traditions that were set aside and trying to change how things were done. He truly wants to make everything better, but in reality he will never be able to make everyone happy. No one can.

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  • June 3, 2010 at 1:57 pm
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    chanteuse: Even though you called my comments “ignorant” if you think about it we really are saying the same things. If you practice hard and put in the time, you will be successful. Clearly you are a singer, and my choir is easy comment was insulting to you. I am sorry. It is simply my observation that more kids take Choir or Theatre, Dance or Ceramics for their “one and done” arts credit.

    And I agree with you that the really talented kids will never be challenged in HS Band or Orchestra. It’s just not supported . Luckily Dallas has many outside ensembles.

    Is Mr. Gunter a full time employee? How many classes do we have? Other schools Plano, etc – have freshman, JV, Honors type classes for the arts. It is really hard to play as a group if some don’t care to practice.

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  • June 4, 2010 at 8:28 am
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    @Band MOM. Band parents on the band Board participated in the cereal prank? Seriously? I figured teenagers just didn’t know how much damage crumbs could do. No excuse for adults, for parents, for members of the band board.

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  • June 5, 2010 at 3:42 pm
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    Maybe if Mr. Gunter acted his age and stopped hopping around like an idiot at pep rallies, people would respect him. Maybe people would stop making jokes about him and stop pulling pranks on him.

    But there’s the problem. We don’t respect him. So no, no apology is coming. If anything he should apologize to us for being an embarrassment.

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  • June 6, 2010 at 1:34 am
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    @khaki

    No where in my statement did I say we should get rid of the arts I just think that there at other schools people bring guns, at HP we pour cereal in a teachers office, whom we hate. There could be much worse, so honestly I don’t know why this is such a huge issue. And FYI, it wasnt until I stepped out of the bubble that I learned about real culture, and thats also where I learned to work as a team. I had a great time in high school, but I felt like 100% of the time people took it way too seriously.

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  • July 7, 2010 at 8:46 pm
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    May you should ask yourselves why Gunter left (was asked to leave) the Univ. of Arkansas.

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  • July 13, 2010 at 10:25 pm
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    Mr. Gunter proved at Arkansas he was good at recruiting not good at retaining.

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  • July 14, 2010 at 1:40 am
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    Ladies and gentlemen, I am a former member of the University of Arkansas Marching Band under the direction of Mr. Gunter. I can personally say that it was an amazing experience. Yes Mr. Gunter is a little goofy, but he does this to get the rest of the band to relax and have fun and forget what others think. Especially in high school we are overly obsessed with what others think about us. I never did understand why we spent time on scales in college, until one day it was explained to me. Knowing your scales actually helps you learn and play your music. A run in a piece of music is actually far easier when you know the scale that it is based off of. I never understood this until I made it to the University of Arkansas. Mr. Gunter is a man who knows his stuff. You as students might think that he is weird and that he is a little long winded. Well, you are right, but put all of that to the side and look at what he is doing musically. Mr. Gunter would hold practice for band at the UofA from 3:30 to 5:20pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. We would learn a whole show within one week and perform it that weekend in front of over 80,000 fans. That was with a band with over 300 members. I felt sometimes that there was no way we should play because we didn’t have it together, but when the time came we brought it. Watching the videos, I was blown away by how well we did. For Mr. Gunter and Mr. Pratchard to be able to take a group as large as the UofA Band and produce the shows that we did, those two men did a tremendous job. When Mr. Gunter took over as the head director of the UofA band from Mr. Warren, there was a lot of “problems” members were finding with Mr. Gunter when he took over. Well these members were the ones that had been under Mr. Warren’s direction the year before. We as band members do not take to change readily. I would say to give Mr. Gunter time. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results and experiences that Mr. Gunter will bring to your program. He is a man who cares about his students and how well they do as musicians. He has always been made fun of, and he has always been the bigger man for it. I feel that the students who did this for whatever reason, did so in a very immature fashion. Not only did they trash his office, but they also poked fun at his physical size through the use of Lucky Charms. I don’t know who these kids are, but I think that they should atleast write an anonymous letter to him apologizing. Please folks, give Mr. Gunter a chance. You will be pleasantly surprised. Well, hope all gets better and that you guys have a great season this next year!

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  • September 5, 2010 at 11:05 pm
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    Nothing since July?
    The band seems to have several new directors, again. I could barely hear them playing in the stands last Friday night, which was not that huge, until I learned that a freshman I was looking for on the field wasn’t marching. I thought maybe he/she was sick, but no, I heard later that not 100% of his/her music was memorized so they were not allowed to perform with the band. I was told he/she knew most of it, just had trouble with a few measures. i question why perfection is expected so early in the season, for the first home game, as I doubt any judges were rating them on a small portion of a half time show. They only played 1 or 2 songs. Do you want to help kids, or drive them away? This is band, not something they had to try out for like basketball or volleyball at the middle school. It is music, and I always thought anyone who put in the effort and time could be part of the band. It seems like now if you are not perfect you cannot be in band either. I have been told many Belle’s don’t ever dance, even if they make the team, but they go into it knowing it. Band, however, was different and everybody was supposed to be able to participate. I would not blame every freshman, who wasn’t good enough/perfect last week, if they quit. Maybe, they still have time to find something at Highland Park they can be perfect at? It seems sad that for a few, their first memory of marching in the band, at a home football game, was having to stand on the sidelines because they were not perfect yet. I was also told some kids got to try again with different directors, and they played worse the second time but a different director passed them. This doesn’t seem like a good way to build spirit in the band. It doesn’t seem like a good way to help kids who are trying hard but just not perfect yet. Maybe these kids will get over it, or maybe it didn’t even bother them, but it bothered me. I hope that Coach Allen gets a lesson in this. Maybe if someone misses a tackle or doesn’t make a catch during practice next week, he should not allow them to play Friday night. I bet if he adopted that practice, even Highland Park would run out of players to play. Perfection is hard to reach.

    There seems to be a great deal of dislike in the Band Community towards the new director. He came from a University? Maybe he needs to be reminded that this is High School. I am new to the area, but have heard the band is better than years ago, worse than years ago, bigger than years ago, smaller than years ago, and on. It sounds like the band program has not been as strong and consistent as the athletic program. I hear Coach Allen treats every player with honor and respect, so maybe he could teach the band directors a few lessons.

    I would rather be able to hear the band, even if they make a few mistakes, than see some of the kids have to just stand there. Maybe, just maybe, some people don’t perform as well in an intimidating situation like a try out. Come to think of it, I miss the days when a band member marches the wrong way, then runs to try to catch up. We all get tickled, and the kid learns from it, and everybody gets to joke about it, but how do you joke about having to stand on the sidelines? How do you get better if you are excluded from having a chance? If I recall correctly, memorizing music and marching can be tough, so give them a chance. Since I couldn’t really hear the band, I have no idea how simple/difficult the music may have been. If the fans can tolerate imperfection, maybe the band gods could too.

    I sure hope these kids can learn their music and play it perfectly before every game, because if they don’t we really won’t be able to hear an even smaller group. Maybe, the Band Directors could take an hour or so to find out what help each kid needs to become perfect. I understand that parents even have to hire directors to give private lessons. I find it interesting that helping/teaching band students is no longer part of a band directors job. Well, if all the kids can’t get every part of their music perfect for each and every game, I look forward to seeing the show the Band Directors put on for us, as perhaps they are the only perfect ones. It seems to me, a former band geek myself, that the band needs to be twice as big to be heard and really be good. It doesn’t seem to me you are in the position to make kids stay on the sidelines. It seems to me you should be trying to recruit a few more imperfect potential members.

    I am becoming glad I don’t have kids in this district yet, but when or if I do, I sure hope they are perfect. If not, they may not survive, and worse, may not want to.

    I also asked around at the game and was told by several, that last year the second band did have a failing section, a loser section. Too bad there wasn’t a third band to put them in. Some kids were there most of the year and got used to it. A few short time visitors absolutely hated it, and still may not be over it. Lucky for the band though, some of the losers are no longer there. Like Michael Jordan, I hope someday they end up showing you!!!

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  • September 7, 2010 at 8:05 am
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    Trust me, virtually all HP students have tutors in at least one subject, the choir students have private voice teachers, the belles have private dance teachers and the list goes on… I don’t have a band student so can’t speak to that specifically, but its the HP tradition to strive for “perfection” – and not settle for “trying hard”. Frankly any director or coach who was ok with “trying hard” would likely be gone within a year or 2 due to a parent revolt. While no one wants to see a kid excluded for lack of “perfection”, the fact remains that those high standards are reflected in the kids’ test scores, athletic and scholastic awards, UIL standings and all the other honors we take pride in as parents of HP students.

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  • September 7, 2010 at 12:23 pm
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    This thread has compelled me to offer the following opinion:

    I am an HPHS alum, my kids attended HPISD schools, and have stayed connected to HP students for the past 30 years. I have noticed a common thread arising from all aspects of HP school life. What was merely “parental involvement” in the past has become “parental obsession” in the present. The line between the two is not insignificant, yet many (not all) parents have crossed it.

    I believe parental involvement is a significant factor in what has made HPISD one of the top public districts in the US. Somewhere along the way, some parents’ obsession with their child winning the competition for the top spot – valedictorian, team captain, editor, playing time, a roster spot, etc. – has caused them to veer from responsible parenting. Their sole desire is to pad their child’s resume; if their child is somehow merely above-average then they are doomed for failure.

    I believe this obsession stunts a child’s natural maturation process. What good does it do for a student to get into a pretigious university when the application and essays were written by paid professionals? What good does it do to micro-manage every aspect of your kid’s life in high school, only to have them struggle in college when they’re on their own for the first time? You get the point.

    I applaud well-intentioned parents. They CARE! However, they should allow the faculty and administration to do their job. Let them bestow recognition to those most deserving, and discipline when necessary, without fear of a meeting from an irate parent.

    The high school years do not determine where we will land in life, they’re just stepping stones along the way. For example, these years should be the time where we parents begin progressively backing off and letting our kids make decisions – and to succeed or fail – on their way to becoming young adults. I believe this process will do more to prepare our kids for successful college careers than using politics to get them the accolades we beleive they deserve.

    I believe a lot of this rhetoric would no longer proliferate if parents could retrain themselves in the spirit of “involvement” instead of “obsession”.

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  • September 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm
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    Clearly hpmom doesn’t understand that what counts in high school band in Texas is scoring high in marching contests. The 4A schools that get to State or even make Area finals have 200+ members marching. Bandfan hit it on the head – marching band is all about numbers – without those kinds of numbers, the band cannot produce enough sound to make good scores. Bandfan also understands that the only way for the HPHS Band to double its numbers is to be market driven. While HPHS might have the primo 4A principal job, primo 4A choir director job, primo 4A orchestra direcotr job in the state, it does not have the primo 4A band direcor job in the state.

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  • September 27, 2010 at 9:15 am
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    I remember when i was in sixth grade choir and also we did your disney medley of songs plus it was the most fun I’d in choir. Arabian Evenings, Be Our Guest, Hug the Girl, Less than the Sea is the ones that arrived at memory from them. They have to bring some on the movies out of that damn Disney vault.

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  • October 23, 2010 at 3:53 pm
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    @ Spock — Don’t be so sure that Mr. Jordan was immune from this treatment back in the day. I remember a band banquet when some masked person jumped over a wall and tried to nail “BJ” with a cream pie to the face. I remember another rehearsal when he spent half the time complaining about someone toilet papering his house. At another the tension got really think and he had a heart-to-hart with the whole band about negative feelings towards him.

    Look, this is HS, and people pull pranks. If you are the major authority figure over a group this large, you are going to provoke some pranks and retaliation. This incident merited a shop vac and a chuckle, nothing more.

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  • October 23, 2010 at 3:57 pm
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    Oh, and what this band REALLY needs is some bagpipes and precision marching. The ’73 Parade of Champions film says it all.

    Just sayin’ . . .

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  • November 18, 2010 at 9:22 pm
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    As a fellow band director who has gone through what sounds like the exact same situation as Mr. Gunter. I will tell you that his approach to focusing on the 8th graders is the correct one. Any students in the high school band that quit were not in band for the love of music. They were in band for the director. When that director leaves, so do those students. Those students are of no consequence. In 2 years those students will not matter and mean little to nothing to an incoming director. However, 8th grade students will be in the 10th grade and be a large contributing portion of the band(especially if a lot of new-director-year-one juniors quit). Students that have not grown up in Gunter’s band mean nothing and in no way reflect on him as a teacher. Most administration is aware that these processes take time and realize that things will be rough for the first few years. When Gunter’s 4th year rolls around, the numbers in the band will have stabilized to something more “normal”. All of the seniors and juniors who quit because of their broken heart over the previous band director will have graduated, and no one will give a rip about the band being smaller for a couple of years. I was a student in a band directed by Mr. Gunter and I hated every minute of it, but I can tell you that most of the stuff that I read on this forum means little to Mr. Gunter. Not because there is something wrong with him, but because these things mean little to anyone who is able to look at the bigger picture. As is the case for Mr. Gunter the bigger picutre is focusing on the younger students. When you build a band program (or most things for that matter) you start from the bottom up. If Mr. Gunter likes the school, he will be there much longer than any of the current students or students of the parents posting on this discussion.

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  • November 19, 2010 at 9:41 am
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    I know Tim Gunter quite well. I have seen him work with his students and also mine. One thing is for sure: He knows what he is doing and is confident in his ways. That may come across as rough to those who welcome him to a new environment. He expects people to do their best, be accountable, honest, and resilient. My advice to anyone who feels like he is unreasonable: Get over yourself. I say this because I am fully convinced that his values and work ethic align beautifully with those that are interested in creating something as close to perfect as is possible. Anyone who has a problem with his standards are the same type that would conspire to vandalize his office. These types are a “virus” type of personality and should rethink their character.

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  • November 19, 2010 at 12:53 pm
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    The rumor mill said the band has shrunk to the point of being designated 2A with UIL? I have no idea how such things work or if it’s true, does anyone else?

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  • November 28, 2010 at 11:12 pm
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    I have know Tim Gunter since 1975. He was a three time all-state French horn player in college, an excellent public school band director or 12-15 years, maybe more. Then he was a successful college director at Rutgers and the University of Arkansas. I’ve also been a band director in the North Texas area for 29 years and remember HP back in the 1970’s when Bob Jordan was the director. We would literally sprint to the stands in time to the the HP Band back then. I also remember it when the band was so terrible and small that they didn’t even march at halftime. Remember those days? Then they went through a few years when they just “couldn’t find the right director” who could do the job! Then enters Time Gunter trying to restore some of the old glory of the Jordan days (who incidentally, was an old Arkansas acquaintance of Tim’s high school band director). Gunter actually knew Jordan. It just amazes me how many bad band directors are out there and how many of them find their way to Highland Park. If you detect sarcasm, you’re correct. Hey HP! You’ve had some good directors. There’s just the few who are too lazy, arrogant, and entitled to do anything other than trash out the man’s office; and the many who simply don’t have the guts to stand up and do anything about it. I would bet $100 bill that someone, maybe more than one kid knows exactly who did it. But I guess $100 is nothing to an ego maniacal, self-centered brat who has nothing better to do than to trash a good man’s office. Well good luck HPISD. Trust me–you’ll be able to hire someone, but your last chance for hiring anyone capable of turning your program into a great band is leaving for Singapore in about six weeks. Your reputation in the band Texas band world (btw-the best state in the US for high school bands) is slightly higher than sweeping out the monkey cage at the Marsalis Zoo. Happy Trails boys and girls.

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  • January 4, 2011 at 10:19 pm
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    As someone that has known Mr. Gunter since I was in junior high (I am now 35) where he served as my instructor at summer band camp and also as my director at the University of Arkansas, I can honestly say that he is one of the best of the best. If you tire of playing scales or taking care of business, and you plan on going on to a higher-learning situation and being in a band, then maybe you should re-think your goals. Tim is known for prepping some of the most talented players in the nation today. Many of his former students are now band directors in some of the finest high schools (and universities) across this nation. Change is never fun (or easy), but I can tell you that Mr. Gunter has your musical education in mind in everything he does. Be patient and learn. I am proud to say that I still play my horn at my age and hope I never give it up. It is from teaching like Mr. Gunters that I have learned how to improv, how I earned a scholarship in music (even as an ag major), and learned to love the art even more than I did before!

    Good luck, Tim! Those who are under his teaching, I commend you for your patience and plead with those of you who are not so patient to give him time and I can promise you that you will be rewarded!

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  • January 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm
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    Highland Park,

    Whether or not you agree with his methods, Tim Gunter is a good band director and an even better man. He has a generous heart and his willingness to be there for his students is legendary.

    Surely, the entire HP band isn’t a group of self-centered, immature and cruel people, but after seeing the pics and reading the article, that’s what you come away with. It’s a shame that the good members of your group let themselves be represented by hooligans who obviously have no concept of respect.

    I hope you’re proud of yourselves, children. You ran off a good man.

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  • March 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm
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    Ok, first of all, the people who ran off Tim Gunter were the graduating senior class. The rest of the band had nothing to do with the prank. The 2010 seniors (those who disliked Gunter the most) put SKA11 on the glass too make it look like the incoming seniors and yet everyone blames it on the band. If I was a senior having to deal with my third band director in four years (like I will be soon) I would not listen to him. Not out of disrespect but because of the change. Every year a new band director comes around you have to get to know him and gain his or her respect and after a while you just get tired of having to prove yourself over and over to new people who dont even know you. We were great under weisburg and gunter was doing well but the fact that he planned to move away even before the prank makes you wonder if he was here to stay at all. I personally believed he would move on from the prank and find a way to bring the band back. That is what makes me bitter. He instilled great hope in our future from the moment we found out he was our new director after weisburg. that was all thrown away. Mr.Gunter was not the best but I think most of the older students can agree that we were and are tired of director changes and at least he seemed like he cared. He was a good man but probably made the wrong decision to drop in on our lives for a year and a half before just leaving. Now with one more year in high school I have no idea who my next director will be. you never know at highland park. who ever it is, they better stay for a long time so others dont have to go through what we have been through.

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  • May 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm
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    You will love Pam Hyatt! As a former resident of the Park Cities and now a resident of China Spring, I can only say that our loss is your definite gain. I have known Pam since she was a student teacher and I have worked very closely with her as Band Booster President. We will miss her terribly. her husband Brandon is a talented musician as well. I have worked with him also. Please welcome her and embrace her enthusiasm.

    http://www.parkcitiespeople.com/2011/05/03/pam-hyatt-named-hphs-band-director/

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