SOMSD once again named a ‘best community’ for music education

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SOUTH ORANGE / MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The South Orange–Maplewood School District was once again recognized by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation as a “best community” for music education. According to SOMSD fine arts supervisor James Manno, this is at least the ninth consecutive year that the district has received this recognition.

In all, 686 school districts across the country were selected for this honor. The award program recognizes outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of a well-rounded education. Designations are made to districts and schools that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education.

“This honor confirms that the comprehensive music education programming we provide in South Orange–Maplewood schools via the Fine and Performing Arts Department is robust and competitive nationally,” Manno said. “For the students, it means they have access to quality music programs ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade, including having the experience of learning a musical band or string instrument starting in grade five.”

But Manno warns that this recognition should not be taken as a sign to relax in the district’s drive for arts and music excellence.

“I think it’s important to note that the data used to determine the award was pulled from the year prior to COVID,” Manno said. “In order to maintain the ‘best music communities’ status, it’s important that the arts and music programs receive the additional funding and support needed to help students catch up on musicianship skills instruction that was severely compromised in a virtual learning environment.”

Photos Courtesy of James Manno