SHERIDAN — The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation recognized Sheridan County School District 2 as one of the Best Communities for Music Education in the country. SCSD2 was the only district in Wyoming to receive the honor, according to The NAMM Foundation’s list of recipients.
The award is intended to celebrate outstanding commitment to music education by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders as well as individual districts’ support for music education as an essential component of well-rounded education, The NAMM Foundation announced in a press release last week. This year’s awards — which recognized 738 school districts and 80 individual schools — particularly applauded adaptation, innovation and perseverance in the face of change.
“These districts and schools persevered in serving their students and communities and assured that music education was part of curriculum offerings. We applaud the commitment and efforts of all music educators, school administrators and community members in providing students the opportunity to explore their creativity through music,” said NAMM Foundation Executive Director Mary Luehrsen.
SCSD2 offers music education programs for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, explained Sheridan High School Band Director of Bands Chad Rose. In elementary schools, the district offers many site-based after-school programs, including singing ensembles, orchestra and band. Band, orchestra and choir are offered for students in sixth through 12th grade, as well as introductory guitar and piano courses.
“Sheridan loves kids and the arts, and these two passions have come together in a world class music program spanning from grades K-12,” SCSD2 Assistant Superintendent Mitch Craft said.
Rose added Sheridan High School also offers unique choirs, including show, jazz and honor choirs, based on ability and interest and instrumental ensembles such as a jazz band, baroque orchestra, symphony orchestra and percussion ensemble.
In his own classroom, Rose said he seeks to transform students into informed consumers of music — from advertising jingles to symphony orchestras to pop concerts — while advancing technical skills.
To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Rose explained SCSD2 answered detailed questions about the district’s funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities support for the music program and community music-making programs.
Applications were then verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.
“If there was one common theme to be taken from all submissions, it’s that schools and districts found ways to sustain music education and student engagement in even the most challenging of circumstances,” said Christopher Johnson, professor of music education and music therapy at KU’s The Music Research Institute.
This year’s Best Communities designation is the latest achievement for SCSD2’s music programs, which have offered robust music education offerings for more than 50 years, Rose said.
“I think it’s a good example of the level of professionalism of the music directors we have at all of our sites here in Sheridan…” Rose said. “We have a group of people that hold themselves to an incredibly high standard.”
“Music education in the Sheridan community has changed my life for the better and will continue to inspire and push me in the direction I wish to go in the future,” said Bryce Allen, an SHS senior and musician in the school’s baroque orchestra, symphony orchestra, percussion ensemble and spring musical.
Allen plans to attend the University of Wyoming this fall to study music education.
Rose said he hopes to pay homage to past Sheridan County music leaders while continuing that tradition into the future.