Stolen sax highlights school-security issues: family

Semiahmoo Secondary student had instrument go missing from South Surrey school's band room last December

Samantha Colborn's saxophone went missing from Semiahmoo Secondary's band room last December

Almost a year after Samantha Colborn had her brand new Yamaha alto saxophone stolen from a band room at Semiahmoo Secondary, the theft is still a sore point with herself and her parents.

It didn’t put a stop to her progress in music – Samantha, now in Grade 9, and also a Grade 9 Royal Conservatory piano student, currently plays lead sax in two jazz bands at the school.

And while her mom Chris says finding $1,600 to buy a replacement Yamaha put a dent in the family finances, that hurdle has long been overcome.

What isn’t so easy to get past is what they view as the unsympathetic attitude of the school administration – and what they say is the school’s unwillingness to accept any responsibility for the thousands of dollars-worth of instruments left daily in the school’s busy band rooms.

School district spokesman Doug Strachan confirmed Wednesday that schools do not assume responsibility for any personal property that goes missing. Board policy dictates that insurance to cover any loss or damage is up to the owner.

It’s policy that Colborn and her mom want other band students – and parents – to be aware of, along with the lack of security at schools.

“”Their attitude was ‘we haven’t had an instrument go missing in a decade’,” Chris said, adding that administration staff have told her they wouldn’t consider installing security cameras in the band rooms, because it would “take away from student learning.”

One of Samantha’s friends had her trumpet stolen in March, they added.

“It was a brand new trumpet that she left in the band room, and in the space of three hours it was gone.”

Strachan told Peace Arch News that while the band room is offered as a place to store instruments, the decision to do so is ultimately up to the individual student.

“There’s no expectation that students will put instruments in lockers or the storage area or take them home,” he said by email. “Students choose.”

But Chris said students end up leaving their instruments in the school band rooms because they can’t carry them around to all their classes.

“What are you going to do, take your saxophone to phys-ed?” she said.

She suspects the problem is district-wide.

For Samantha, who wanted to go to Semiahmoo because of the music program even though she lives outside of the catchment area – her mom used to play saxophone in school bands there, too – it was a sour note to start her first year.

“It was Dec. 17, the last day before the winter break. Pretty much everyone leaves their instruments overnight in the band room so I left it there on the Thursday night, and when I came back Friday it was gone. It was quite a surprise.”

Band teachers Kevin Lee and Dagan Lowe were very sympathetic, she said.

“Mr. Lee was very helpful – he took me through all the band rooms and practice rooms to make sure someone hadn’t moved it.”

“They can’t watch over the instruments – they’re busy teaching classes,” Chris said.

Theorizing that someone had taken Samantha’s sax home by accident and lent her another saxophone over the winter break and meanwhile Chris contacted the Semiahmoo Music Society.

“They sent out an email to everybody to look out for the sax,” she said.

“When I got back in the New Year it was still gone,” Samantha said. “I talked to the school but they wouldn’t do anything for me.”

After further discussion with the administration, they said, Samantha was allowed to have a second locker where she keeps her sax and her friend keeps her replacement trumpet.

“This year they didn’t want to give me another locker again – they’re telling me that if there are any more students coming to the school, I’ll have to give it up.”

But she’s not taking any chances on letting her instrument case blend in with any of the others in the band room, she said.

“This time my case has bright pink duct tape on it,” she said.

– with fiiles from Tracy Holmes

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Police were at a White Rock home Oct. 20 to conduct a search warrant. (Aaron Hinks photo)
ERT response to White Rock home connected to homicide: police

Search underway in the 15800-block of Prospect Crescent

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Oct. 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Ivan Scott. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Surrey mayor enters word war with speakers, councillor

McCallum calls brief recess after asking two speakers to leave chambers

Signs at a new COVID-19 testing and collection centre at 14577 66th Ave. in Surrey. It was relocated from an urgent primary care centre near Surrey Memorial Hospital. This new centre allows for up to 800 tests per day, which is 550 more than the previous centre, according to Fraser Health. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s COVID-19 case count exceeds 1,800

About 800 new cases in September

Montreal-based writer Michael Foy grew up in the Newton area of Surrey. (submitted photo)
Surrey-raised writer Foy really loves to set his short stories in the city

His latest is published in ‘Canadian Shorts II’ collection

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Maple Meadows Station’s new Bike Parkade. TransLink photo
TransLink to remove abandoned or discarded bicycles from bike parkades

Rules at TransLink bike parkades ask customers to use facilities for single day use only

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

Most Read