School board clerk upset at last-minute cancellation

A high school board trustee plans to give the United States Army Field Band a dressing-down after it abruptly canceled a show at Edison High School.

Bonnie Castrey, the Huntington Beach Union High School District's board clerk, said she intends to contact the band's administration about how much money and time went into planning the concert, in which students were set to perform alongside the military musicians. The band had to cancel Sunday's show as well as others when talk of a government shutdown loomed last week.

If the military band had told the district earlier that it had to cancel, teachers and students could have worked out an alternative program, Castrey said.

"Had the Army even given us a heads-up on Monday or Tuesday, we could have had our own students do performances," she said. "But to tell us on Friday morning is just despicable."

Band administrators, though, said they hadn't heard of the cancellation themselves until Friday morning and contacted district officials as soon as possible.

"We did not know we were going to have to cancel our concert," said Sgt. Michelle Laska, the band's tour coordinator. "As soon as we walked in the door that morning, we had all these e-mails stating we would have to cancel the first few days."

Band spokesman Master Sgt. David Bullman said he had heard rumblings before Friday about the possible government shutdown, which ended up being averted. He and his colleagues, though, didn't know until Friday how the shutdown would impact the band.

"That's not helping to make them feel better about the concert not happening, but this is kind of a once-in-a-decade thing that happened," he said. "It was out of our control."

Castrey said she sympathized with the band's situation but believed the government should have worked faster to give notice of the cancellation.

She and other district officials had worked hard to publicize the show, she said, even sending invitations to local politicians. When the district got word from the band Friday, it contacted as many ticket-holders as it could, but because many people had ordered the free tickets anonymously online, it was impossible to track down everyone.

Sunday, Castrey ended up going to Edison in person to let dozens of people know the concert was off, she said.

"Our teachers spent an entire year putting this together, hundreds of hours of time," she said. "Students were looking forward to it. Every one of our schools was supposed to have master classes.

"Here are our children, once again, being harmed by adults behaving like children."

Despite the show's cancellation, the district did get a partial visit from the band. Col. Thomas H. Palmatier, who was in Southern California visiting family and expected to join the rest of the band when it arrived, gave a clinic Monday at Fountain Valley High School and planned to do more Tuesday, Laska said.

Still, Alexis Booher, the former Edison parent who helped organize Sunday's show, said she wouldn't work with the band if it proposed another appearance in Huntington Beach.

"If there is a next time, I won't be involved with it," she said.

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