Bairnsdale Secondary College will farewell the leader of its highly successful music program, Gerry Ciaverella, at the end of this year.
Mr Ciaverella, who is the face of music in East Gippsland thanks to his amazing work with the school’s swing and jazz bands which have performed spectacularly for many years at local events and even interstate, says goodbye after 25 years in the job.
His decision to retire coincides with the school making changes to its budgeting for its Key Learning Areas, which also include subjects such as English and maths.
Families with children engaged in the program are concerned the school hasn’t been transparent with the direction of the music program.
“Parents haven’t been informed, the students don’t know where the program is heading – we as a community are devastated that Gerry is leaving and the program won’t be the same,” one concerned parent said.
“I know of families who have decided to send children to the school because of the program and the superb structure – it’s widely recognised as one of the best music programs in the state.
“The implications of this are huge. I understand schools need to budget, but this appears to be a cutback. At a time where the whole community is struggling coming out of bushfires and COVID-19 restrictions, I have real concerns for the emotional health and wellbeing of the students.
“We need clarification, consultation, the school needs to be open and honest with the community. I think the students and parents need to be supported and engaged in these decisions.
“We don’t want to see the music program – which has been so amazing for so many students and helped them forge careers in the music industry – be dismantled.”
Former school principal, Graham Keil, said Gerry’s departure was a huge blow for the school and the community, saying the school should have done whatever it took to keep a man of his calibre.
“I hope the school’s administration and particularly the school council will provide the public with a satisfactory explanation on why and how this came about,” he said.
“On the surface it appears the college may have failed Gerry and so failed our community. “Did anyone fight hard to keep this talented
man? “The music department at Bairnsdale
Secondary College has a proud history, especially with community engagement. We know how fortunate we’ve been to have John Rogers start and develop music at the high school and we’ve been blessed to have him, John Smith and Gerry carry it.
“These wonderful people don’t grow on trees. We should always do our best to support them for the work they do.”
School principal, Trudie Nagle, said there had been changes to the school’s budgeting program.
Ms Nagle said Mr Ciaverella’s decision to retire was not related to budget changes. She said the school would miss Mr Ciaverella’s presence.
“It’s a tragedy for the college, you could spend an hour listing the qualities of the man,” she said.
“He (Gerry) said it’s time for a change – he’s been here 25 years and originally he intended on being here five, so he will leave a massive
hole to fill. “He is very emotionally connected to the
school’s program, the kids in it and the families involved, so it was a hard decision.
“But as is his character, he is actively looking for his replacement, using the connections and resources he has created over many years to ensure when he walks away the program functions just as smoothly as when he was there.
“There is no doubt while he has been here he has taken the school’s music program and performance to another level.
“We’ll miss him.”
College council president, David Radford, thanked Gerry for his outstanding contribution, adding his decision to leave the college was respected, but that Gerry would be sadly missed in the college school community after 25 great
years of service. “Gerry has been an active participant on
school council and our sub-committees as Department of Education and Training representative for around 10 years and will be missed by past and present members of the school council and our broader school community,”MrRadfordsaid.
“His energy and commitment to promoting music throughout East Gippsland is outstanding and he has been such a positive influence on many of our region’s young residents.
“Through my discussions with the school principal, I am confident the college is committed to continuing the music program in 2021 and will commence the process to actively seek someone to come on board and fill the big shoes left by Gerry’s departure at the end of the school year.”
Leader of the Bairnsdale Secondary College music program, Gerry Ciaverella, will farewell his role at the school come year’s end. Gerry has been part of the school’s music program for 25 years and took it to a new level. He is pictured leading the school’s swing band at last year’s Paynesville Music Festival. K240-102