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April 16, 2014

 

DeRuyter hits high note

School’s music program receives national recognition

BandBob Ellis/staff photographer
The DeRuyter tenth-twelfth grade band rehearses Tuesday in the music room. The National Association of Music Manufacturers Foundation has given the district its 2014 Support Music Merit Award. DeRuyter is one of 96 schools across the country that received the honor.

By MATT LEADER
Staff Reporter
mleader@cortlandstandardnews.net

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.
“Concerts are always packed,” she said. “We always have to set up extra chairs on the floor. We have a music boosters organization that will do anything in the world for us and that’s on top of many, many willing and supportive parents.”
The district’s music program has thrived despite years of consistent state aid cuts, which have sheared nearly $2 million from the school since the 2010-11 school year.
“We are very fortunate,” Stearns said. “Our staff has not been affected, our kids don’t have to rent their instruments. We really have an outstanding program here.”
“We are extremely proud of our students and equally proud of the staff and faculty who put their time talent and energy to ensure we have an excellent program for our students,” Walters said.

 

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