Kettering City Schools’ Trent Arena is packed for a multi-grade band concert in March 2016. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

Local schools win national music awards

The Kettering, Troy and Lebanon public schools were among a select group that won Best Communities for Music Education awards this year from the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM).

Only 36 Ohio school districts were honored — just over 5 percent of all districts in the state — and there were 527 winners nationally.

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St. Albert the Great, a Catholic elementary school in Kettering, was one of only three Ohio winners of another NAMM award, the Support Music Merit Award, for individual schools that show great commitment to music education.

The awards program recognizes outstanding efforts to make music education part of the curriculum. The National Association of Music Merchants and University of Kansas researchers evaluate schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards and access to music instruction.

Lebanon won the award for the fourth year in a row, according to district music coordinator Will Kuhn, who thanked district administration. He said Lebanon schools start by making time for music instruction at the elementary level, but the district also has one of the largest high school Music Technology programs in the country, with over 300 students a year. He said the percussion ensemble group has won two world championships.

“We have much larger than average student body participation in music courses at the high school level,” Kuhn said. “About 65 percent of the student body at LHS is involved in a music course in any given school year, when the U.S. average is only about 20 percent.”

Troy schools were a second-time winner of the Best Communities for Music Education award. Superintendent Eric Herman said the music program runs from kindergarten through high school, thanks to “dedicated and passionate” teachers.

“Our music education program in Troy is a very big part of not only our curriculum, but of our community,” Herman said. “We believe that there is a strong tie between students who actively participate in the school music program and student success in school. The program teaches skills to be successful in the world once they leave Troy Schools.”

Kettering schools won the award for the sixth consecutive year.

This year, for the first time, all four Fairmont orchestra groups received “Superior” ratings at state orchestra competition, and the Fairmont Winter Guard won the regional championship in Kentucky, beating guards from nine states, according to school district spokeswoman Kari Basson.

Fairmont High School’s top a capella group, Eleventh Hour, was the only high school group selected to perform at the American Choral Director Association’s National Conference in Minneapolis last month. And a student theater production of The Music Man is running this weekend.

“The links between student success and music education have now been demonstrated by brain researchers in multiple studies,” said Mary Luehrsen of The NAMM Foundation. “The schools and districts our foundation recognizes are building on that connection between music and academics … in a well-rounded curriculum that makes music available to all children.”

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