An unsung problem: all THHS orchestra classes run through recently cut QC funding

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Last week, the Townsend Harris High School community received news that the Department of Education will no longer fund the Queens College Preparatory Program (CPP). While there has been much discussion surrounding the Bridge Year Program that offers seniors 12 college credits, the contract between the DOE and Queens College covers many other activities at THHS. The Classic will be highlighting these lesser known activities, which may be impacted by the cut. In an email to The Classic, Assistant Principal Ellen Fee confirmed that the THHS orchestra program is funded by the CPP.

In an email, Chris Lee, THHS’s sole orchestra teacher, confirmed that the CPP funds his salary. However, he said he has not yet received any official notifications regarding the status of the orchestra program. In an email to students last week, Principal Brian Condon wrote that following the news of the cut he would be working with his administration to make difficult budgetary decisions and has yet to announce which programs would continue to be funded through the school’s central budget.

Upon learning that the funding for the orchestra program is tied to the QC contract, several strings students expressed their dismay.

“At a school where the arts play such an essential role in school-wide extracurricular activities…I am disappointed to say the least,” said symphonic student Katie Hsu.

Strings student Ian Patino acknowledged that budget cuts may have been necessary but also said it would be sad to have to lose “a passion [he] discovered and nurtured at Townsend.”

Students also expressed their appreciation for Mr. Lee and his string classes.

Orchestra student Isabel Xu said, “It was one of the classes I looked forward to the most [because] it relieved my stress from other classes.” She also described Mr. Lee as “the kindest and most understanding” teacher she has had.

I am watchfully optimistic about the situation, and I am ready to make the changes necessary to continue supporting [THHS] musicians in the new school year,” said Mr. Lee.

Photo by Katrina Dydzuhn.