For the sixth time and the fifth year in a row, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation has awarded the Newtown Public Schools for its “outstanding commitment to music education” with its Best Communities for Music Education designation.
Newtown joins 376 districts across the country to receive this prestigious distinction in 2014, according to a press release from the school district.
In its 15th year, Best Communities for Music Education affirms school districts that have demonstrated exceptional efforts toward maintaining music education as part of a school’s core curriculum.
The Best Communities for Music Education survey requires districts to answer detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by the Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.
Newtown’s Director of Music Michelle Hiscavich said she is “proud to have the hard work and efforts of the music teachers recognized and appreciates that the community recognizes the value of an education in music and the arts. Arts programs enable children to become well rounded individuals.
“In addition to developing the creative side of the brain,” she continued, “children are strengthening their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. The music teachers are dedicated to the providing the best program possible for the children of Newtown and are creative and innovative in their approach. We are working to educate the audiences of tomorrow as well as the next generation of musicians.”
The Best Communities for Music Education program plays an important part of the NAMM Foundation’s efforts to make music education part of the core curriculum, assuring that the benefits of music making are available to every child. Numerous studies have demonstrated that learning to play music can boost academic and social skills, lower disciplinary action, and keep kids in schools, according to the release.
Nearly 5,000 students participate in the Newtown Public Schools music programs, which include general music, chorus, band, orchestra, percussion ensemble, jazz improvisation, music technology, harmony and composition, and advanced placement music theory.
Many students also participate in jazz band, marching band, annual musical productions, chamber orchestra, singers, color guard, winter guard and winter drumline.
Over 40 students were selected to participate in this year’s regional and state music festivals. Additional recent awards include the Connecticut High School Theater Awards, MAC Marching Band Champions, WGI Color Guard Awards and various jazz competition awards. Music students frequently perform for school and community events and have traveled the world representing Newtown and making music, according to the release.