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Band Teacher Suspended Pending Investigation

The board of education approved suspending Larry Markiewicz with pay.

Bridgewater-Raritan High School band teacher and marching band leader, Larry Markiewicz has been suspended with pay pending further review and consideration by the superintendent.

The suspension took effect last week, and was approved by the board of education at Tuesday's meeting, pending continued investigation.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Schilder declined to comment on the reason for the suspension, as did Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association president Steve Beatty.

But current students, graduates and parents turned out in droves for Tuesday's meeting to discuss a teacher they overwhelmingly call "the most influential teacher in their lives."

"The past few days he hasn't been there, it's been different and the band room has not been the same," said Megan Demichele, a senior at the high school. "He has given the band so many opportunities, and encourages us to grow to our greatest potential."

Several current students spoke about the influence Markiewicz has had on their lives, encouraging them to pursue their dreams and speak out for what they want to do. They said he has been the one to shape the band program and transform it into what it is today.

Many said it is the support, guidance and leadership they learn from Markiewicz that has made them passionate about music, but also forces them to work harder both in and out of the classroom.

"Band is the reason why I get up in the morning, and I learned so much from him in the past three years I have been here," said Haley Orlando, a junior at the high school. "I learned that if I want something, I have to fight for it with all my heart and soul."

"Mr. Markiewicz taught us that leaving a legacy behind is extremely important, and we have come before you to protect and defend the one man who has made the biggest difference in our lives," she added.

And for many graduates, they have carried those lessons on to college.

"Band was how I found my way in high school and found my way in the world," said Rebecca Orlando, a BRHS graduate who is now a music education major at Montclair University. "Mr. Markiewicz has made an enormous impact on my life, and showed me who I can be as a musician."

But, Orlando said, she is also concerned about the future students who will not learn from Markiewicz if the suspension holds.

"Imagine being a senior this year, and this was a historical year for the band, this band did something no band on the east coast has ever done, came in 18th out of 96 in Indianapolis," she said. "If he leaves, they will no longer be known for their success, but for the year they lost Mr. Markiewicz."

"And the biggest thing that kills me is for future students," she added. "He is the heart of the band program, and to take him away would be heartbreaking."

Graduate Cyrus Heidary, who is now a freshman at Rutgers University, said he had to take time out of college to show the students at the school now that the graduates still care about them, and they want to support the return of their favorite teacher.

"He is one of the most important people to happen to these kids," he said. "I can't even comprehend what would happen if anything happened to his position."

Frederick Ford, a former vocal director at the high school, said he worked with Markiewicz, and was dumbfounded when he heard about the suspension.

"Suspension is a very serious thing, and I hope the presumption of innocence would prevail," he said. "It is a damaging thing and I know it is tearing his family apart."

Ivy Lane resident Phyllis Demichele said she has two children in the band program, and has been able to see firsthand how Markiewicz's passion has influenced his students.

"I have watched my daughter grow in leadership, and most of this is due to him," she said. "He is the most passionate teacher I have ever seen."

"I feel the success of the band program is not determined by banners, it is measured by the children, growth and accomplishments," she added. "I know I can only speak for my experience, but I wanted you to be aware of the positive impact he has made on many students."

Crim Road resident Marie del Ciello said her two children were in the band program for all four years of their high school careers, and the lessons they learned from Markiewicz have translated into their current college and beyond endeavors.

"They learned to continue to strive for excellence, to make a commitment and stick with it, to learn discipline so they can get better, to have time management so they can do all their activities," she said. "And what they learned extends into their future."

AnnaRene Jeremiah, who is the chair of the Band Parents Association, said she credits Markiewicz with helping her son, Brian, grow as both a musician and leader.

"I appreciate this because it translates into self improvement and drive," she said. "I personally appreciate the challenges he has given to my son. What Mr. Markiewicz has done has worked for them all."

Nick Massa, a 2012 graduate and former drum major for the marching band, said he would like to implore the board of education and administration to recognize all the people, both current and former students, who journeyed out on a school night to the board of education meeting to show support for their teacher.

"They came here to advocate for Mr. Markiewicz, who has made an impact on us," he said. "I seriously implore you to consider that one man has caused this many students to come out and talk tonight."

Diogenes March 13, 2013 at 01:30 AM
You know, it's interesting. I see all of these comments about how he brought excellence, etc, etc but, at what cost? I have been entrusted with the leadership and training of Soldiers for more than 20 years. Don't recall ever once having humiliated a Soldier in front of subordinates or peers for any reason, (just the opposite in fact, we teach praise in public punish in private.) Didn't allow my own temper to get in the way of doing my job. Calling it the artistic demand for perfection is a cop out. Despite not having this man's method of soul crushing, I have still managed to have a long term impact on the lives of Soldiers that lives on not just in them but, also in the Soldiers they now train and lead. There is no place in my profession, (where we risk a lot more than states or regionals) for this kind of behavior which we label toxic leadership and do our best to root out. There is no place for this in education no matter what prizes are earned. Oh, and I spent my adolescence studying guitar at Peabody in Baltimore and, despite not being humiliated or having music stands broken in front of me by my considerably gifted instructors, still managed to become a good guitarist as well.
BW08807 March 13, 2013 at 01:34 AM
People here seem to focus on Mr. Markiewicz's general behavior. Why don't we focus what he did this time to get him into the current situation? What did he do exactly?
Tugwalla March 13, 2013 at 03:07 AM
Markiewicz is a state worker who gets his kicks out of abusing children.....fire him and take away his pension...
Charlene March 13, 2013 at 03:25 AM
Seems like this is how you get your kicks.
Everyone is Special March 13, 2013 at 10:28 AM
That is a 100% lie. Please let all of us who have known him for 30+ years which school district fired him; this is news to us. Lying-ass loser.
Denise Rinn March 13, 2013 at 03:22 PM
I'd think this is easy enough to prove true or false. Provide the previous school and dates of employment. I'm sure one of the 100+ posters on here can check it out. If it's true, there needs to be follow up to why he was hired by BRHS. If it's false, I think you'd better delete that comment ASAP.
Nicole March 13, 2013 at 03:38 PM
Well Said!
Everyone is Special March 14, 2013 at 10:26 AM
Hey, STEIN? Since you were the one who put this lie out there, why don't you enlighten us all, boy? Dying for you to share your "intelligence" with us all.
A BR Parent March 15, 2013 at 01:35 AM
Yes. Can somebody please let everybody know what exactly did he do to deserve suspension ?
Tugwalla March 15, 2013 at 01:45 AM
an obnoxious idiot takes out his impotence to win a silly band trophy...
BW08807 March 15, 2013 at 04:08 AM
Looks like this is a tabu. No one is willing to talk about. Why?
Everyone is Special March 15, 2013 at 11:48 AM
Well well well, I guess Mr. STEIN doesn't have anything to back up his LIE.
John Marcovitz March 15, 2013 at 02:19 PM
a kid wanted to go to the naval academy. He told Mr. M that he wanted to drop out of band to focus on volleyball. Mr. M told him that if he did, he would personally call the Naval Academy and tell them about the student's commitment issues. That's why he was suspended.
Mitch Schreiber March 15, 2013 at 03:54 PM
The BOE has not released any information about the suspension so anything posted here is rumor and "heresay", not fact.
Ken March 15, 2013 at 05:36 PM
When I was in middle school, Mr. Hughes was the director for our class band, but I still remember the first time Mr. Caramano subbed in. During a certain cadence the band kept slowing down, and every time he would stop us and restart. He wasn't mean, loud, disrespectful, he was just pushing us to play a piece properly and many of us became better musicians that day. It seems, based on the article and comments I just read, that the Cult of Larry has grown since I left BRHS. Back when I was in the band, I would say a good 80% of us, even in the wind ensemble, were of the opinion that regardless of how the band sounded, his methods were inappropriate, bordering on abusive. That's not counting the friends I had, some of them extremely talented, who were so fed up that they had quit band altogether. However, there were always those who thought that the ends justified the means- those people rarely bore the full brunt of Larry's negativity. If he likes you, he'll compliment your playing. Cindy, you were a DRUM MAJOR, he needed you to perform but he could NOT afford to lose his temper at you. Larry doesn't care about whether his students love music, all he cares about are his bands, his competitions, his performances. If your musical priorities conflict with his- if you're in a demanding extracurricular band, or just want to have a jam during lunch instead of practicing his stuff, that's a problem to him. He's completely missed the point of a school music program.
Ken March 15, 2013 at 06:32 PM
I fully believe if Mr. Eck or Mr. Caramano were in charge the band could sound just as good if not better. They know how to encourage students to be great without being nasty or losing their temper. In fact, they're already just as responsible as Larry for how good the band sounds. Their students are incredibly talented and love making great music, then Larry comes along and mines that enthusiasm and talent until there's nothing left.
stampit615 March 15, 2013 at 07:39 PM
I may be a bit late to the party, but wanted to address the "preparing our children for the real world" line. In the "real world" bullying is not tolerated either. I don't know of any company that would tolerate inappropriate behavior in their employees. There are a growing number of states considering making workplace bullying against the law. Don't tell me children need to learn how to take bullying in order to survive in the "real world". That is a cop-out line - there is never any excuse that justifies an adult screaming, demeaning, or throwing objects at a child, especially one who is holds a position of authority over the chlid. I don't bully my children at home - I teach them to treat others, especially their elders and those in authority with respect. I expect other adults with whom they interact to treat them with respect as well. My son was involved in the band program but quit due to the abuse he received at the hands of this "idol". You cannot tell me there is no other music teacher in the state of NJ or anywhere else that also has passion and the ability to keep BRHS as an award winning program without the abuse currently being handed out. Passion is great, rage is not. I don't believe we should sacrifice the goal of building our childrens' esteem and appreciation of music for the sake of winning awards.
Ken March 15, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Larry makes it clear how much disdain he has for members who don't join marching band or jazz band. He demands absolute commitment from every member, but you wanna know something? IT'S HIGH SCHOOL BAND. You're dealing with students who have friends and jobs and college applications, and a lot of them are also in demanding honors and AP classes. They're not at a stage in their life where they should be spending all of their time and attention on one activity. I could understand the level of practice and commitment he expects if he were directing the region band, but I guarantee NJMEA would never put a guy with his anger management problems in front of their best students. Let me tell you a story- for a year or so I used to have lunch in the band room and then I would spend some time practicing. One day, O'Connor was playing the drum kit and encouraging my to try and improvise something, which I'd never done before. Then Larry comes out, and instead of giving me some tips on improvising he breaks it up and tells us to go practice his stuff. A great chance to teach promising young musicians how to have fun with music, squandered so we could spend twenty minutes playing songs we were bored with. If you make music a chore, that's how we'll look at it. I had my own drive and passion for music when I started high school, but by the end I never wanted to play clarinet again. Also, don't glorify coaches who try to live out their own dreams by beating up on kids.
John Alicea March 20, 2013 at 03:04 AM
To continue what Elizabeth was saying, going into BRHS I loved playing my instrument, i took great pride in being both an athlete and a band member. The teachers at the middle school were a great source of inspiration and education. Then i entered high school, and since i was not part of his precious marching band i was considered in his eyes a second class student. He demonizes those who play for enjoyment and not win him accolades. I let this slide though realizing that i was in the freshman band and there were other students in the class who were extremely musically talented and wanted to perform high levels of musical literature. Entering into my sophomore year and the "less talented" symphonic band, that i would be able to play my instrument with my friends for the enjoyment of music rather than the pursuit of recognition. This was as far from the truth as we are to repaying our national debt. This "great educator/inspirational leader" degraded almost everyone in that class. He caused many of the good friends i had made in band, some who had been in marching band the previous year to quit. One time in class he referred to me as a musical terrorist with as much intent on musical destruction as the people who crashed into the twin towers. Comments like that from him were not unusual and he was good for at least one of them a week. From the people I've talked to who participated in band with me under his "tutelage" everyone has said it's about time and long overdue
BRHSAlum2010 March 20, 2013 at 05:10 PM
Okay well if following this "real world logic" then i would have had every right to respond with a F*** you, but in a place of academic learning there are higher standards put in place that reflect the value of education and human interaction. Another "real world logic" failure would be fights in school. Simply put if somebody is going to fight/attack you, you should defend yourself, not run and find a person of authority, for the sheer fact that you will be harmed, yet if you attempt to at the high school you are seen as just as guilty as the offender. This is simply because at BRHS they hold us all to higher standards, trying to create better people in the community.
BBAlum06 March 24, 2013 at 12:15 AM
As a art teacher, I appreciate the creativity and urge that my students have to try new and interesting things . However, I only allow my students to come in during lunch or after school to work on a project outside of my curriculum once they come to me with that expressed interest and a plan. I may be thrilled that little Ken wants to paint with acrylics instead of watercolors, but I'm not going to give him a fresh canvas and the use of my brushes until I know he can care for them properly. If you wanted to play drums, that's something you could have expressed to him. I'd have an issue if I found a student having full range of my classroom materials unsupervised. There are things to take into consideration as a professional responsible for supplies- what if you dented the set somehow? For example, I wanted to study with Markiewicz on music I was looking into outside of class- I approached him about this and he made time for me and encouraged it. I also tried another instrument after approaching him about it. On another note, Caramono addressed an incident during marching band when my brother cursed out an instructor under his breath. Was he right to address it? Yes. Does that mean that he's a horror of a person? No. Did my brother feel that way after being put in his place? Yes. Personal incidents, often times, do not come with full explanations.
BBAlum06 March 24, 2013 at 12:16 AM
I also was not a drum major, or even in wind ensemble, but that was the point. I was interested in continuing music while focusing on another subject. I was also never physically or verbally abused by him. By joining the wind ensemble, it was clear that you were willing to put in the time and commitment to stay there. Otherwise, you could continue playing in symphonic band. Certain activities call for a level of commitment- it's called accountability, people. The "real world" that many of us are referring to is one where people are responsible for themselves regardless of what "comes up", where people need to be held to a certain level of expectations, where people need to push for something in order to succeed. I don't know if I would have found a teaching job without the persistence and passion that I learned throughout high school. When discussing the real world, I have not found that any of us have said "you need to learn how to handle bullies". I would think of these views as emphasizing that there are often individuals that expect a level of excellence in situations, and these situations should be viewed as a welcomed challenge. Markiewicz is not abusive. He is passionate and inspiring, and I do not believe that he would return to his post simply to scate-by. He, and Gary, are inspiring educators who want the best for their students, and I aspire to be like them.
Ken G March 24, 2013 at 02:09 AM
I was a student of Mr.Markiewicz when he was a Baritone Instructor in the Cadets2 Drum and Bugle Corps. It's because of him that i've become the musician I am today. Great man, passionate, and inspiring. There's a reason Bridgewater-Raritan is one of the top bands in New Jersey.
Shanthi Sundar April 09, 2013 at 01:34 PM
It is high time for a decision.Mr.Myer is trying his very best to do it all.Our band program is good because we had great musicians and two great band directors who complement each other to make it one of the best in the state and country. BRHS band is a very demanding program and only kids who can live up to that should join.We have tons of other clubs at school which will suit them better. There are many children who are on the program and live for music and gave up their opportunities to do other clubs to fully focus on this. By MAY we are usually getting ready for the first marching band practice.I don't think it is fair to keep parents and the band kids in the dark about what is going to happen for next year.. We feel you pain and sympathize if you did not have a good experience . As far as we know we have had great years and was looking forward to more. Joining marching and quitting leaves empty spots on the field and does not look good .It is very hard to make a change to fill up those spots. The same applies to other bands.You work as a team player and quitting disrupts the flow.Be a good ROLE MODEL AND TEAM PLAYER. Both parties in question have flaws.Move on already.
Wise old owl April 09, 2013 at 05:49 PM
Peace, Maybe there is a reason that the school board is taking their time to make a decision. This is serious and things should not be decided until all the facts are in. Let the lawyers and the school board do their job!
uniony April 25, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Abuse and "tough love" are a fine line. These are not criminals, for the most part they are dedicated band students. I had several abusive teachers who should not have been teaching, and I applaud efforts to make sure that abusive teachers are reprimanded and rehabilitated or fired, as appropriate. The same things happens with sports coaches, in or out of school. Some parents might get upset if little Johnny doesn't get a solo, someone else might be happy their kid was called a "lazy bum with no future".
Former BD in PA May 03, 2013 at 04:39 AM
I have been a band director of a very successful high school band program and gave my life to a program and students, only to be thrown away by a school district after a crazed band parent attacked me and I was arrested. I was trashed and accused of things that I never did on line, by supposed teachers, alumni, etc. This man may have his faults, but he, I'm sure, built this program at the expense of his personal and professional life. When you start to attack him, don't hide behind blogs like this that like to ruin peoples lives. I draw a line in the sand, and place a stone behind it - if you are innocent, and can find no fault with your own life, cast the first stone..............................................Nor will I.
Former BD in PA May 09, 2013 at 02:44 AM
As I said at the end of this string, if you are without sin, cast the first stone................
PGlass June 15, 2013 at 03:07 PM
I was a drum major of one of the ensembles he taught. He regularly embarrassed me in front of the other members, and use to regularly throw his hat at me. Sure it was just a hat, but could I throw it back at him? Sure he was nice on occasion but had no control when he didn't know how to fix something. I'm not saying all these accusations are true, but I will say that I'm not surprised.
Kelly Sanders January 22, 2014 at 10:34 AM
I pray that all is resolved with this controversy. Although we do not know the entire story, I can say this from my experiences. I am a former student of Mr. Larry Markevich and all that the students preach is true. I am happy in my career and life and I owe a lot of it to Mr. Markevich and Gary Myers. Still to this day (8 years after graduating) “Larry and Gary” stories come up around the Holidays as they were the highlight of my high school career. I played in the most basic band throughout my four years, and still it left one of the greatest impacts on me. Band helped shape my work ethic and life philosophy. Mr. Markevich exceeds his job tasks and serves not only as teacher but mentor, motivational speaker, and role model. He will forever be the man encouraged my passion to pursue my dreams; He was an incredible leader. Through his efforts in the BRHS music program, I witnessed how powerful one person’s existence is in a community.

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