Three area school districts recognized for their music programs

From left, Tom Kelly of Zeswitz Music, Pottstown Schools Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez, School Board President Amy Francis and Pottstown High School Music Dept. Chairman Michael Vought with Pottstown’s 2nd consecutive Best Communities for Music Education award.

POTTSTOWN >> Out of more than 13,500 school districts in the nation, only 525 of them have been identified as being among the “Best Communities for Music Education,” and three of them are right here in our backyard.

Boyertown, Pottstown and Spring-Ford school districts have all been named to this year’s list which Tom Kelly calls “very prestigious.”

It is the second consecutive year Pottstown has been awarded the honor.

Kelly is from Exeter-based Zeswitz Music, which rents and supplies musical instruments to many area school districts, and he was in Pottstown Monday to present that district’s award.

The recognition comes from the NAMM Foundation, a non-profit supported by the National Association of Music Merchants, of which Zeswitz is a member.

The communities are chosen through a very stringent selection process that looks at funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs.

It is administered by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“Less than 3.9 percent of the nation’s school districts qualify,” Kelly said. “It’s very elite. It’s very prestigious.”

Pottstown Schools Superintendent Stephen Rodriguez said Pottstown “has always been known for the excellence of its music program and we’re gratified to see it recognized on the national level.”

“We have known for many years that our music program is one of the best, thanks to the dedication of our teaching staff, the tireless work of our students and the ongoing support of our parent volunteers,” Spring-Ford Superintendent David Goodin said in a release announcing the award.

“Receiving this recognition solidifies what we have known to be true. I am quite proud of this outstanding group of individuals,” Goodin said.

Similarly, Boyertown Superintendent Richard Faidley said in a prepared statement that “this award confirms what we know about our excellent programs for students in music and related arts. It also highlights music’s vital role in our student’s overall success in school and the personal benefits of making music.”

Kelly agreed, noting “if you survey the top 500 CEOs in this country, you’ll find that 89 percent of them were involved in music education.”

Indeed information provided by Boyertown noted that research at Northwestern University has found a link between students in community music programs and life-long academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance.

And perhaps more important than that, said Kelly: “music enriches the soul.”

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