Letter: ‘I will band together parents, students, teachers and administrators’

In these days of political and social upheaval, I would like to possibly add to the turmoil by announcing my candidacy as a write-in for the Rappahannock County School Board for Hampton district.

For more than 60 years I have worked as a teacher, musician, conductor, administrator and mentor both to adults and young students throughout the country. I would like to share my abilities with our students and teachers in Rappahannock County and make our schools the very best expressions of a vibrant community.

Locally, I have served as a member and twice chairman of the board of the Child Care and Learning Center (CCLC), whose mission is to support the education and welfare of our county’s preschool children and their parents. I have been actively involved with the Kid Pan Alley children’s songwriting project and several years ago composed “Panther Pride,” a fight song for Rappahannock County High School. I have led two Fourth of July “All American Band” concerts with the students of the Castleton Festival. I have served on the board of RappCats, been a member of the board and a past president of the Rappahannock Historical Society, and am currently on the advisory board of the Castleton Foundation.

Nationally I have served as president of the National Band Association; am a past president and honorary life member of the American Bandmasters Association; and for 22 years served as chairman and CEO of the John Philip Sousa Foundation.

I have two sons, five grandchildren and one great-grandson. I have been a property owner in Tiger Valley since 1984 and have been a full-time resident since 1996. I have served in the Marine Corps for 40 years culminating with the rank of colonel, as director of “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band. I have a bachelor’s in music and a doctorate honoris causa from Loyola University, where I teach and conduct in a chair endowed in my name.

I am entering this race due to my personal beliefs and at the encouragement of others regarding the statement by another candidate who actively supports the arming of teachers in the schools. I align myself with the position of both of the candidates for sheriff in opposition to arming the teachers. I believe that schools should be temples of learning where students are encouraged to excel and teachers are supported. Our schools should not only be drug-free zones but also gun-free zones. This can be accomplished only when, as we teach our children, we arm our teachers with unconditional support and wisdom, not bullets and bayonets.

I seek your support and know that if elected I promise to do the utmost to better the education of our children. I will band together parents, students, teachers and administrators to beat the drum for excellence on a higher scale.

John R. Bourgeois

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