Royalton-Hartland School District has more than 1,200 students, from K through 12, and from the very beginning they are learning music.
Whether it's singing in the chorus, playing strings in the orchestra, or bopping out a beat in the jazz choir, Roy-Hart is feeling the rhythm, and this year it is being awarded – for the second time in two years – the Best Communities for Music Education Award given by the NAMM Foundation.
While the contest is mainly for bragging rights and a plaque, Superintendent Hank Stopinski was happy for the opportunity to describe the program his district has implemented and highlight the community support that was there long before his own appointment two years ago.
"We've been very fortunate over the years that we've been able to introduce strings and musical instruments to our students in the elementary school at fourth grade," he said. "Chorus, we teach every grade level, every student is exposed to chorus over the course of the school year."
Choir continues as a class throughout all the schools in the district, and band begins in fifth grade. Lessons on instruments are also scheduled in, Stopinski said.
"(We have) the full ensemble," he said. "Everything from tubas down to the flutes and piccolos. ... Violins, violas, bass, chellos."
In a press release on the announcement it said, "After two years of music education, research found that particpants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers." The document went on to say students who were involved with music education were more likely to graduate and to attend college.
Roy-Hart boasts six full time music teachers, one in each building and three floaters. The music department enjoys robust support from the community, it includes a Music Parents Club, which funds scholarships, as well as, music summer camps.
"It's been a part of the culture well before I came here as superintendent two years ago," Stopinski said in regard to support from the community. "It's just something that's carried on and we've been fortunate that the taxpayers continue to support our budgets and the quality programs we have."
The NAMM Foundation is supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants. It has over 10,000 members around the world and is a non-profit organization. Its goal is to encourage music participation throughout the lives of students, teachers, and community members and employs scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. More can be found about them at www.nammfoundation.org.