Administrators Formalize New NCHS Student Requirements for Popular ‘Ramstock’ Music Festival


The New Canaan High School Student Coalition and administrators this year formalized a rule requiring that at least one-half of the players in bands participating in an annual music festival be current NCHS students.

The rule, now appearing on flyers and informational emails for Ramstock, existed on an ad hoc basis for years. It has opened a rift between some students and teachers, according to NCHS Student Coalition leader Priscilla Schulz.

“The participants should go to New Canaan High School,” Schulz said. “I’m sure that those students that are in bands with others not going to the high school don’t like the rule, but I definitely understand why the rule was put in place.”

Threshold of Pain playing at the 2013 Ramstock

Threshold of Pain playing at the 2013 Ramstock

Advocates for the policy say that Ramstock is meant to showcase the talents and passions of NCHS students only. Opponents say that the rule inhibits inter-school collaboration, shuts out NCHS artists and slows the event’s fundraising efforts. Ramstock was held Wednesday night in the NCHS cafeteria. WIth the new rule in place, the number of non-NCHS musicians participating was cut in half, from six to three.

According to many student participants, the rule hurts more than it helps.

“The other opportunity that this policy destroys, is the ability for different communities to bridge together through music,” said NCHS junior Erik Cohen, a member of The Verticals, a “mixed band,” composed of New Canaan and nonresident students.

The event formerly had been known as ‘Battle of the Bands.’ If it remained a competition, the rule would have some value, NCHS Junior Sam Klearman said.

“When it’s this informal, though, as long as you have someone from nchs it should fine,” he said. “I mean, you never know if someone is going to gonna sit on the side playing cowbell and claim to be the NCHS member. But then does it really matter? All it would do is potentially attract more people that would pay for tickets and food.”

However, Assistant Principal Ari Rothman said that such considerations do not address the event’s true purpose.

“This rule is not a restriction,” Rothman said. “The event has always been about showcasing NCHS musicians.”

He also noted the rule’s history, explaining that it had to be more strictly enforced this year because it was time to put the issue to bed.

“It’s been a discussion for years between Student Coalition and the administration,” Rothman said. “We’re constantly dealing with the different variables thrown at us for Ramstock, and the issue is always called into question again. This year they came to a hard stop.”

Students have found ways to skirt the rule in the past. Last year, Klearman recalled, NCHS students decided to write in their names on the roster as though they were members of the mixed bands, allowing them to perform under the guise that they met the threshold.

While participating students argue that the rule should be bent to allow more non-NCHS students to perform, Schulz said that the current rule benefits New Canaan High School students.

“The fact that we are allowing some outside students to participate is very generous, because when Ramstock started, it had to be 100 percent New Canaan High School students,” Schulz said.

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