In an interview, senior Club Blue President and Percussion Captain Ren Rivera describes his reaction to an email sent prior to the start of the school year and what it was like finding out his former director had been arrested.
By Kathy Tang
Just one day before the start of the 2016-2017 school year, Club Blue members were notified via email that their director Jason Mangan, was taking a leave of absence for an unspecified reason that “required [his] full attention.” The following week, it was made public that Mangan was arrested on allegations of sexual relations with a minor five years ago.
“We understand the student body is shocked and saddened by the recent events. The school psychologist, Ms. Lujan, remains available to assist students during this transition. We are committed to working closely with our staff to make sure our students feel safe and secure at BVHS and that we have a very productive and successful school year,” Principal Bettina Batista said.
On July 28, the day of the arrest, a psychologist encouraged Club Blue members to talk about the news in the band room. Despite the initial shock of the event, senior band president and percussion captain Ren Rivera mentions Club Blue is more “unified” compared to previous years. Student leaders, Club Blue staff members and band substitute Joseph “Joe” DeMers are working together to continue class and practices in Mangan’s absence.
“We are confident the substitute, Mr. DeMers, will enthusiastically and effectively lead Club Blue in Mr. Mangan’s absence,” Batista said.
Batista was unavailable for further comment concerning the hiring of a permanent band teacher and Club Blue director. DeMers mentions his position to be “temporary” for an unknown period of time. While DeMers has a degree in Music Education and over two decades of experience in an Army band, there are aspects of BVH’s band and color guard that DeMers is not familiar with.
“Sometimes you can’t find music substitutes so the kids are on their own. My role is just to keep them playing a lot and improving on their instrument. We have a staff that helps them with the marching [aspects] of band,” DeMers said.
The Club Blue instructors including specialized leaders in areas such as visuals, percussion, drumline and color guard continue to prepare with students during sixth period and after school. Club Blue has a full fall season planned including football games and their South Bay Field Tournament on Oct. 8.
“This may sound a bit strange, but our loyalty isn’t necessarily toward Mangan himself. Our loyalty stems from the positive culture and community that he was constantly striving to cultivate and maintain,” Rivera said. “Club Blue is a family; a family of people from many different ways and walks of life. Club Blue has every intention to ‘set the standard of excellence.’ That much has not, and will not change.”