Camille Cruz, Tibbetts Middle School Student, Banned From Using Purple Violin In Orchestra

A New Mexico community is up in arms after Camille Cruz, an 11-year-old in Farmington, was barred from using her violin -- a gift from her grandmother -- in orchestra class.

But the banned violin is no ordinary instrument: it's purple, leading Tibbett Middle School officials to require that the sixth grader use a traditionally colored violin, or not be a part of the orchestra.

Since the Daily Times wrote about the story, the community has responded with an influx of messages.

"It's been the talk of the town," Daily Times reporter Ryan Boetel told the Los Angeles Times. "The reaction has been incredibly mixed. Half the people say an orchestra is a team that should come together as one. Others say that anything that prevents a child from joining a school orchestra is a bad thing."

The district offered to waive the $30 rental fee for Camille to use a school violin instead, but the student and her mother Sherry Lopez declined. Lopez says she wasn't looking to create drama, and merely sought to show her daughter that she could fight for her beliefs.

"It's like telling Axl Rose he has to use some guitar from Kmart," she told KRQE. "He doesn't want to use that. He wants to use his own guitar."

But some orchestra members disagree. One student told the Daily Times that colored instruments tend to be of poor quality and "aren't suitable for a professional and classroom setting," while a parent compared the purple violin to a member of the marching band refusing to wear the uniform.

"We try to the best of our ability to give the best education with the best tools possible," Superintendent of Campus Programs Frank Stimac told the Daily Times. "That's what we were trying to do and it went south."

Meanwhile, Camille has switched out of the orchestra class in favor of choir.

"I'd pay for private lessons if I could afford them," Lopez told the LA Times. "But it doesn't matter now, I guess. Camille is taking choir now."

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