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Parent complaints ignite change with FHS marching band show

The Farmington High School marching band will perform "UNITE" during the homecoming halftime show on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. Submitted photo

FARMINGTON — This week's Farmington homecoming halftime show will march to the beat of a different drummer with new hand-painted signs showcased at the end of the show.

The 10-foot signs carried by band students will read "UNITE" instead of "RESIST."

The high school received complaint calls from district and band parents who believed the word "resist" was a political statement against President Donald Trump's beliefs, actions or his presidency.

New Farmington Principal Dan Pickens said he received calls of concern from parents on the first day of school. He then decided to sit down with band directors to discuss a solution.

"We decided it was best if we look at doing some things differently so we did not have the integrity of the band and our instruction in question," said Erin Holmes, director of band programs at Farmington High School.

Pickens said this was an issue of perception and miscommunication.

"It was not a political statement and we made changes to focus on the kids, and it was not about us trying to defend our system by reacting to the complaint, but we are reacting to how the focus was not being placed on the kids," Pickens said.

The band halftime show is called "Dystopia" and that did not change. The program theme centers on how students connect with popular fiction like "The Hunger Games" book series and George Orwell's classic "1984" novel that examines dystopian worlds.

The change from RESIST to UNITE will show clasping together instead of Orwell's Big Brother eye on the signs.

"We were just telling a fictional story and it kind of got blown out of proportion, and we wanted to make sure we were clear in our storytelling, and it had nothing to do with current politics and it never had any relation to what is going on in today's times," Holmes said. "That marching part is purely art and it was never intended to offend anyone or be divisive in anyway which is why we worked really hard to make that clear to the public because we don't want people to think that is what we are doing."

Teaching in the district for 19 years, Holmes said this has been the first hiccup in her band program.

"It has been a great opportunity to teach kids about diversity and adversity," Holmes said.

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