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Aberdeen High School
Performing Arts'
Craft and Art Show


The Administration of Band Failure

©05 The Media Desk

Aberdeen's Band Welcomes You
The Aberdeen Band Welcomes You to Their Craft Fair.

The Band playing the Anthem
Aberdeen High School's Marching Band playing the National Anthem.

      There was a craft show this past Saturday at Aberdeen High School. Yes there was.
      There were somewhere on the order of forty vendors with everything from cigar boxes, decorated wine bottles, hand made jewelry, flower arrangements, art photographs, and almost everything else you could imagine under the general title of 'craft'. Everything from kid things to things for kids, like a three hundred dollar hand crocheted Christening gown. Yes there was.
      There was food and drink, and a nice breeze, plenty of free parking, and even a competition to award Best In Show ribbons to the vendors with the best booths. Basic services were provided by some of the school's janitorial staff, and at least in the case of Patrick, service was done with a smile.
      The show had almost constant Live Entertainment from both groups from the school, and groups from the Community. Such as the acapela jazz singing group, Vocal Obsession, picture below, and several of the musical groups affiliated with the school.

Vocal Obsession performs
The group Vocal Obsession performs for ... well, more on that later.
this photo will serve as the obligatory pretty woman photo for this article

Some background on the school itself.
      Aberdeen High School has a beautiful new building just off route 22 in Maryland. It serves something on the order of 1400 students through four grades beginning with its Freshman Academy where ninth graders are grounded in basic subjects through in school Academies in areas such as Science and Math.
      The school is part of the larger system of Harford County's Public Schools which serves the county at the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay between Baltimore and Wilmington, Delaware. The district oversees eight regular high schools, one technical school, and an alternative program.
      The All American City of Aberdeen itself is perhaps best known for two other details. It is home to the Aberdeen Proving Ground for the US Military and its Ordinance Museum. As well as the baseball complex that is visible from Interstate 95, Ripken Stadium, where the new 'Iron Man' of baseball- Cal Ripken Junior- hosts camps and events for young players, and the Aberdeen Iron Birds play minor league professional baseball.
      As for the school itself. It appears to be a fully functional and well served school with all the usual student activities including a soccer team and some other groups who were playing at home the day of the show.

A member of the visiting team does some shopping
Even the Churchville Girl's Soccer Team came to shop... but where were ...later

From the Harford County Public Schools website:

Beyond the core curriculums, high schools offer a wide and varied range of extracurricular and club related activities. These can include experiences in music, drama, fine arts, publications, and areas of student interest. Additionally, the high schools support a complete program of interscholastic athletics for young men and women.

Aberdeen High School
The glass and steel East Front of Aberdeen High School's New Building.

      In short. Aberdeen High School is situated in a good location to have what is billed as "Not your typical high school craft show" according to the Band Boosters web page. It is within easy driving distance of some major population centers. It is well served by major highways (US 40 besides the Interstate). Has a military base. And has a well-established population base with a history that involves the school to give them a stake in the school. Since 1907 pretty much everybody in town sent their kids to AHS, so most of the businesses in the area had at least some employees that went there.
      That was evident in the rather impressive list of business sponsors of the event. Those that had donated or charged reduced prices for goods or services to help the band included: A bakery, a donut chain, a super market, a pizza chain, and some other local businesses. Local media had publicized the event to some extent, and a website based in the county had offered services that way.
      It would seem to be a recipe for a successful event.

      But there was something missing.
      One VERY crucial ingredient absolutely required for the success of any event like this, and just as important for Next Year's event.


Lots of vendors. But NO PEOPLE
"What if they have a craft fair in Aberdeen and nobody comes?"
Ok, now the Desk knows what somebody is going to say, that this picture was taken before the show opened. NO. This was taken about 1330 hrs (1:30 PM), look at the shadows.

      OK. Right off the bat, the desk did NOT speak to the Principal of the school. Because they never showed up. Neither did, to the Desk's knowledge, or to the knowledge of any of the event staff that it spoke to, the District Superintendent, the High School Assistant Principal, or even most of the teachers. So the comments from the Band Boosters and others on site that day have to be taken for their surface value only without rebuttal.
      If any of the Administration had appeared, even for a few minutes, the Desk would have been more than happy to hear them out. And IF they send a response to this article, the Desk will post it as received. But, oh well.

      But the Desk did hear LOTS of opinions from the Band Parents. From some of the others affiliated in one way or another with the performing arts departments in the school. From the students. And it is somewhat adept at reading between the lines and inferring meaning to what it sees.

      The opinion of the Band Parents and the band's other supporters is that the Administration of the School, and by extension, the District, does not support the Arts Department of the school. And in some ways, actually works to demean them. For instance, there was a recent incident between the football team and the marching band in which the band felt as if they had been disrespected in some way (unnecessary subjective details omitted here). After which the band's people contacted the Principal for intervention. According to the band, the principal never even acknowledged the communication.
      OK. Let's suppose the band and its backers were being overly sensitive. Fine. OK, let's admit to the fact that football players can be, shall we say- crude? Fine. There's a way to handle these things. You call the Band People and tell them you'll talk to the Coach and have him speak to the usual suspects on the team and reign them in a little. That's all it would take. To ignore them is to invite trouble.
      We could call that an isolated incident. But the evidence, both anecdotal and otherwise, mounted like hot dogs on the grill (including- for instance- the size of the marching band relative to the size of the school). How about this, Nobody representing the School Administration came around to meet and greet the people that were there, customers, vendors, jazz band kids, whoever. Nobody official made a speech before the National Anthem thanking the vendors for coming out to support the school's arts, that was left to a band parent. There had been a large event with over a thousand people in attendance a couple of days before the show, yet the craft fair to support the performing groups had not even been mentioned to the crowd that night.
      Yes. Some of the responsibility for promotion is the responsibility of the Band Boosters. Maybe even MOST of that responsibility. It was their fair after all. And they did put up a few signs. Yeah, there could have been more, and maybe some of them could have been larger, and in better locations. But there are limits to what some street signs can do that morning. Yeah, maybe there was some more they could do. And they promised to try to do more next year. Yet they do not have At Will access to the student body, the parents, the staff and teachers, and the community at large as the school administration. Fliers could have been sent home with the students the week before. It could have been in the school's regular news releases to the local paper.
      No. The Desk would hope that the music department's supporters don't expect a Homecoming style pep rally to drag every alumni out from miles around to show up at the craft show to support the band as they do the football team. That's a little over the top. But at least a blurb in the morning announcements the week before would be nice. None of the kids it spoke to remembered any mention of it at all.
      More than likely the entire event was put together and directed by a few OVER INVOLVED and HYPER DEDICATED band parents, and some more or less willing draftees and others. As is the way with these kinds of things. But even then, what they could do, and what they could afford to do, is limited. Again, it is the access to the parents at the high school level, and indeed, those of kids that will be there next year from the middle school, as well as the teachers and other staff, that could have made this event a roaring success with thousands of attendees clamoring at the gate to get in. Instead of the lame fizzle it was with less than three hundred attendees total.

      Face it. Nobody came to the show. For What it Was, Where It Was. With everything that was going on there that day. It should have been packed, it wasn't. And it Hurt. It hurt the band, the boosters, the school, the event itself, and its vendors. Especially those that do this As A Business, and basically WASTED a Day sitting there watching band kids walk around. No. Worse Than That. They PAID A LOT OF good money for NOTHING. And don't start about 'a risk you take...' No. For what was charged for that space for that day you EXPECT a reasonable minimum of foot traffic. That place was Dead all day long.
      Face it. The reputation of This Event is Toast. Especially when the vendors that were there go to their shows next week and next month and tell others about the fiasco in Aberdeen and what it took out of their pocket.

"They made THEIR money off of US for the Day." -a vendor

      From where the Desk sat and watched and listened, easily half the blame for the failure of the overall event can be laid squarely in the mail slot of the ranking administration of the school who has decided, in effect if not as an actual policy, NOT to support the performing arts with the same enthusiasm as they have the athletic programs of the school.

"Sports is his thing." -band booster

      At the very least, the school's bosses could have drafted some poor teacher to show up and do a formal 'thanks for coming' on behalf of the Administration.
           . . . . . . . at the very least

restroom sign on the school door
The Aberdeen High School Administration welcomes you to their rest room.

      Or maybe that is Exactly what they did.
      The Very Least.

LINKS will open in new window.

The Vocal Obsession jazz singers website- The Ordinance Museum's Site.

The Aberdeen High School Band Booster's Craft Show Page. A Note to the Boosters for Next Year: How about giving those that showed up and paid FULL PRICE for a spot at this year's show a break on the cost of Next Year's? Maybe say, by half? The good will that would build might pay off in the long run. what say ye? AHS and Harford County Schools.

[NOTE: AHS, Vocal Obsession, Cal Ripken and etc, and all related identifying names and marks are properties of their respective owners. All performers photographs were taken during the public appearances at the show. All other individuals represented are private citizens and real last names are not used by the Desk. The Media Desk is not affiliated with or otherwise attached to any of them, no endorsement of anybody is to be inferred from their being mentioned here. The Media Desk is a registered fully qualified domain operating as a Journalistic outlet. Opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of anybody else. All Photos Are Taken By and Remain Property of the Desk. Use for Educational Purposes with credit to The Media Desk website is permitted. Thank you. ]
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