Fairmont High School band members participate in a summer practice on the fields outside the school, preparing for their fall competition season. JEREMY P. KELLEY / STAFF

Local schools win national honor for music programs

Three local school districts have been named Best Communities for Music Education in a national review that cited the quality of the schools’ music education programs.

Kettering, Lebanon and Centerville schools were among 623 districts nationwide to be honored by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation’s 2019 awards. Just over 5 percent of Ohio school districts (38 of 607) won the award.

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St. Albert the Great Catholic School in Kettering won the related Support Music Merit Award, recognizing the commitment to music education at an individual school. St. Albert was one of four Ohio schools selected among 98 nationwide.

Kettering schools earned the award for the seventh straight year. Michael Berning, the district’s coordinator of music, said more than 700 students participate in performing arts at Fairmont High School, with more than 1,800 students involved in the music program in grades 6-12. He said the district has five concert bands, four orchestras, four choirs and over 20 total student ensembles.

“Our community is incredibly supportive of music education across the board, and our school district administration supports our music program in every possible way,” Berning said. “The new auditorium is the perfect example of this community providing incredible opportunities for every Kettering student and every interest, whether it is academic, performing arts, athletic, or other.”

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Lebanon schools won the award for the sixth straight year. Will Kuhn, the district’s performing arts coordinator, said Lebanon has one of the nation’s largest high school music technology programs, serving over 300 students per year in a pop music and media production setting. Kuhn said advanced students run a recording studio, producing student-led TV shows and performing in a live electronic music group. The high school drumline has won two world championships.

“Earning this award for several years is a testament to the hard work of our students and instructors,” Lebanon Superintendent Todd Yohey said. “Our music programs are recognized by many awards throughout the year, but this honor is special because it involves the entire community.”

Centerville schools have more than 720 students participating in elementary and middle school chorus, while at the high school, the Centerville Jazz Band is a 19-time Bands of America Regional Champion, according to district spokeswoman Sarah Swan. The Forte A Cappella group was named a top 10 group nationally and will perform at the National A Cappella Convention in Memphis on April 26.

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“The K-12 music teachers of Centerville are proud to have earned this distinction from NAMM,” Weller Elementary music teacher Debbie Whitlock said, thanking the school district for its support. “We are also grateful for the community businesses that partner with us to provide lessons, classes and performance opportunities outside of school.”

Just outside the Dayton area, the Wilmington and Kings school districts also won the Best Communities for Music Education honor.

St. Albert won the Support Music Merit Award for the sixth straight year. Upper level music teacher Mary Brown said St. Albert students have general music class with certified music teachers every week. An instrumental program ranges from recorder to violin, and performing options include choir and musicals.

The school also takes advantage of outside resources, with Muse Machine performers coming to the school to work with students, and Alter High School providing beginning and advanced band options.

2018 STORY: Local schools win national music honor

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