Bush, But No Bands?

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Excitement turned to disappointment this week for some Wood County High School band members who thought they would be performing for the president.

Williamstown's High School band was one of three invited to perform when President Bush campaigns Sunday in Parkersburg. Kelly Roberts is the parent of two band members. She says they were ecstatic to find out they'd be performing until the Wood County school system changed those plans.

"And then my oldest son told me that the Board of Education has told us that we legally cannot do it because we would be supporting a political party," Roberts explains.

The Wood County Board of Education cites a policy approved more than 30 years ago, saying musical groups such as bands and choirs cannot perform at political events. There's also a secondary schools activities commission policy, saying they can't perform on Sundays.

"In essence, they would be together as a group, practicing if nothing else as a group from the school," says Wood County Secondary Schools director Mike Boys. "It would be against the SSAC, also, because it would jeopardize the band and the school."

Boyd says a "community band" featuring students from Parkersburg High, Parkersburg South and Williamstown may perform Sunday, but students would take part voluntarily.

"If (my children) are invited to that, and they wish to participate, I hope they do," Roberts says.

Roberts says it's ironic the president is appearing at a school-owned facility, but the board political policy does not forbid the rental of school property for political meetings. The board's political policy is due for review every two years. Boyd says its next review is scheduled to take place this October.