Bridgman community shows support, demands answers concerning band director

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- The Bridgman High School band wants their teacher back, making it loud and clear in Monday night's school board meeting.

Even though it wasn't on the agenda, hundreds in the Bridgman community showed up with shirts, signs, and stories about longtime band director Cliff Reppart, who was put on a paid leave back in November.

Some parents claim it's because of an incident that involved Mr. Reppart's child at a Bridgman school, but the school board hasn't confirmed, due to it being a personnel matter.

Past and present members of the Bridgman marching band even performed together before the school board meeting, which for them, was very fitting.

"We just want our teacher back," says Doug Weingart, a parent to three former Bridgman marching band members.

It was their way of making their voices heard for Reppart, the beloved Bridgman High School teacher and band director of nearly 20 years.

The hundreds of parents and students wearing shirts and holding signs of support at Monday's school board meeting just want answers.

"A lot of people just feel like they didn't have any guidance and were concerned about what was going on," says current Bridgman High School senior and band member, Aiden Conley.

Current students like Conley, who has been in Reppart's band program since the fifth grade, and former students alike say Reppart has been one of their most memorable mentors.

"He has been a very positive impact on a lot of us and the things he has done to help build up the program in his 17 years of teaching," Conley says.

"I went to Central Michigan University because of him, same college he went to," says CJ Russell, a former Bridgman band member and close friend of Reppart's. "I joined the marching band because of him, and I became a band director because of him."

The school board and superintendent were unable to comment directly on why Mr. Reppart was put on leave and the status of his employment, but they say no final decisions or actions have been taken yet.

As the board plans to review his situation Tuesday in a closed-door session, the Bridgman community hopes they can value the support that was shown to Reppart in their decision.

"I'm hoping that they come to a conclusion that allows him back into the classroom, and I can't say enough good things about the man," Russell says.

"He is so dedicated to making these kids' lives different," Weingart says.

The school board says as soon as they come to a decision concerning his employment, they will be communicating that with the Bridgman High School community.

Parents and students say they will be outside the middle school Tuesday, where the meeting will be, showing their support once again.

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