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VISD's new fine arts director begins work

By Carolina Astrain
July 22, 2013 at 2:22 a.m.
Updated July 23, 2013 at 2:23 a.m.

Ken Peach is the new Victoria school district director of the Fine Arts Department. The Fine Arts Center is home to plays, musicals and concerts.

Ken Peach, 48, is a jazz man on a mission.

Peach, who recently left his post with the Cedar Hills school district to take on the Victoria school district Fine Arts department director reins, has big plans for the upcoming school year.

But first, he has to find a new mariachi director and a few more music people to fill vacant positions within his department.

The new Victoria school district fine arts director is attending three state music conferences this week in search of potential candidates.

"We're still trying to hire people," Peach said. "I've picked up some good leads here."

For the past year, the district went without a fine arts director following the departure of Jay Lester, who resigned spring 2012.

Peach's first day of work was in the second week of July. He has spent the remainder of the month getting to know the community and his department.

One of his first actions as director was sorting out the unofficial agreement between Victoria West High School and Cade Middle School, allowing eighth-graders to perform with the high school marching band.

The district's other high school marching band at Victoria East High School does not allow eighth-graders to play with their band, which some members of the community saw as unfair.

Another point of contention was the fact that Patti Welder Middle School, a feeder campus into West, did not have students participating in the high school band.

The agreement between Cade and West was seemingly done out of convenience because their campuses are right next to each other, Peach said.

But now after speaking with the high school band directors and principals, Peach said he's reached an agreement to allow Patti Welder students to be bused for band practice at West.

"Apparently, VWHS has had eighth-graders play in their band for some time now, and nobody seems to have complained about it," Peach said. "I'm going to allow it and see how it goes this year."

The director said marching middle school students in high school will be a first in his 20 years in music education.

Adam Ardner, the band director at West, said he's welcoming the change.

"This is all about providing students with opportunities to gain experience and to assist with recruitment and retention," Ardner said. "It's something that UIL permits, and we're working on increasing numbers and enrollment in our program."

However, because East does not see the need for numbers within their band program, middle school students who are part of the East community will not march alongside high school students, Peach said.

Marching programs aside, Peach said he's also looking forward to working with the arts community in Victoria, which is what drew him to the Crossroads in the first place.

"I see this area as a diamond in the rough," Peach said.

The director said he hopes to develop partnerships with the Victoria Bach Festival and other arts organizations in town.

"Any time that we can get the community involved in our schools is a positive thing for our kids," Peach said.

Peach, who plays the trumpet, said he's also in search of an area jazz group to play with when he's not at school.

"I enjoy playing my instrument," Peach said. "I played every day in my church back where I came from."

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