3 dis­tricts rec­og­nized for their mu­sic pro­grams

The Southern Berks News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

POTTSTOWN >> Out of more than 13,500 school dis­tricts in the na­tion, only 525 of them have been iden­ti­fied as be­ing among the “Best Com­mu­ni­ties for Mu­sic Education,” and three of them are right here in our back­yard.

Boy­er­town, Pottstown and Spring-Ford school dis­tricts have all been named to this year’s list which Tom Kelly calls “very pres­ti­gious.”

It is the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year Pottstown has been awarded the honor.

Kelly is from Ex­eter-based Zeswitz Mu­sic, which rents and sup­plies musical in­stru­ments to many area school dis­tricts, and he was in Pottstown Mon­day to present that district’s award.

The recog­ni­tion comes from the NAMM Foun­da­tion, a non-profit sup­ported by the National As­so­ci­a­tion of Mu­sic Mer­chants, of which Zeswitz is a mem­ber.

The com­mu­ni­ties are cho­sen through a very strin­gent se­lec­tion process that looks at fund­ing, grad­u­a­tion re­quire­ments, mu­sic class par­tic­i­pa­tion, in­struc­tion time, fa­cil­i­ties, sup­port for the mu­sic pro­gram and com­mu­nity mu­sic-mak­ing pro­grams.

It is ad­min­is­tered by The Mu­sic Re­search In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of Kansas.

“Less than 3.9 per­cent of the na­tion’s school dis­tricts qual­ify,” Kelly said. “It’s very elite. It’s very pres­ti­gious.”

Pottstown Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Stephen Ro­driguez said Pottstown “has al­ways been known for the ex­cel­lence of its mu­sic pro­gram and we’re grat­i­fied to see it rec­og­nized on the national level.”

“We have known for many years that our mu­sic pro­gram is one of the best, thanks to the ded­i­ca­tion of our teach­ing staff, the tire­less work of our stu­dents and the on­go­ing sup­port of our par­ent vol­un­teers,” Spring-Ford Su­per­in­ten­dent David Goodin said in a re­lease an­nounc­ing the award.

“Re­ceiv­ing this recog­ni­tion so­lid­i­fies what we have known to be true. I am quite proud of this out­stand­ing group of in­di­vid­u­als,” Goodin said.

Sim­i­larly, Boy­er­town Su­per­in­ten­dent Richard Fai­d­ley said in a pre­pared state­ment that “this award con­firms what we know about our ex­cel­lent pro­grams for stu­dents in mu­sic and re­lated arts. It also high­lights mu­sic’s vi­tal role in our stu­dent’s over­all success in school and the per­sonal ben­e­fits of mak­ing mu­sic.”

Kelly agreed, not­ing “if you sur­vey the top 500 CEOs in this coun­try, you’ll find that 89 per­cent of them were in­volved in mu­sic education.”

In­deed in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by Boy­er­town noted that re­search at North­west­ern Univer­sity has found a link be­tween stu­dents in com­mu­nity mu­sic pro­grams and life-long aca­demic success, in­clud­ing higher high school grad­u­a­tion rates and col­lege at­ten­dance.

And per­haps more im­por­tant than that, said Kelly: “mu­sic en­riches the soul.”

“Less than 3.9 per­cent of the na­tion’s school dis­tricts qual­ify.” Tom Kelly, Zeswitz Mu­sic

EVAN BRANDT — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

From left, Tom Kelly of Zeswitz Mu­sic, Pottstown Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Stephen Ro­driguez, School Board Pres­i­dent Amy Fran­cis and Pottstown High School Mu­sic Depart­ment Chair­man Michael Vought with Pottstown’s sec­ond con­sec­u­tive Best Com­mu­ni­ties for Mu­sic Education award.

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