hits high note
DeRUYTER — One of 96 schools nationwide to win the 2014 Support Music Merit Award, DeRuyter’s music education program has been identified as one of the most inclusive, comprehensive and community-supported in the entire country.
Given by the National Association of Music Manufacturers Foundation, the award recognizes the scope of a school’s musical offerings as well as the level of support that those offerings receive from the community.
“Music is a very important and integral part of the curriculum in our school district,” said DeRuyter’s Superintendent of Schools Charles Walters. “Music education promotes artistic and creative skills while fostering the attributes of self-discipline, personal organization, teamwork and self worth.”
Though the honor doesn’t include a monetary award, DeRuyter was chosen from among 2,000 districts that submitted applications for consideration.
Despite its small size, the school offers an extensive array of music options, said the district’s music department chair Lisa Stearns.
Stearns said 48 percent of students in grades five through 12 were members of one of the district’s four choral groups, and 52 percent of the students were members of one of its five instrumental groups. Those are in addition to general music and music theory classes.
“I’ve been in band since fifth grade and always loved it,” said Emily Cirbus, a senior at DeRuyter. “Whether it’s an instrument you want to play in band or if you want to be in Chorus; we even have a piano class. For being a smaller school, we have so many opportunities to be in some part of the Music Department.”
“It’s an incredible honor,” said Stearns, who’s been at DeRuyter for 11 years. “We are such a small district and in the grand scheme of things, small districts are overlooked a lot of times.”
“As a parent, if music education is important, you can look at that designation and know which districts are up to snuff,” said NAMM’s public relations director Lora Bodmer.
In addition to course offerings, the survey’s criteria takes in to account the level of support a district receives from its surrounding community.
Community support, Stearns said, is something DeRuyter has in spades.