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The WPS Music Program, under the talented direction of (from left) Band Director Jason Smith, Elementary Music Teacher Melissa Smith, and Vocal Director Logan Langholdt, has earned the distinction of being named by the NAMM Foundation as one of America's 2021 "Best Communities for Music Education!"

WPS Music Education program receives national recognition!

District earns NAMM Foundation distinction as a 2021 "Best Community for Music Education"

Aristotle once wrote that "Music has the power of producing a certain effect on the moral character of the soul, and if it has the power to do this, it is clear that the young must be directed to music and must be educated in it."

There is an abundance of research backing up Aristotle's words, and for many years the teachers and administrators of Wahoo Public Schools have been "all in" in supporting/providing, among other things, a top-notch music education program. Our community and students have reaped the benefits of the District's focus on the Arts, and now, a national foundation has taken note.

WPS has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Now in its 22nd year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the Best Communities designation, WPS answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“This is a great honor recognizing the commitment and efforts of our students, staff, and the community of Wahoo to the continued emphasis on the fine arts in Wahoo Public Schools,” commented WPS Superintendent Brandon Lavaley.

There is no shortage of students who credit the music program as being a undeniable highlight of their high school years.

"Out of all my memories from Wahoo High, my favorites will always be the ones that I made with my music family," said WHS senior Avery Spicka. "My experiences with the Wahoo Music program have shaped who I am, and I'm so grateful that I got to be a part of it."

Sinc­e the passage by Congress in 2015 of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and a stated emphasis on a well-rounded education, many school districts have re-committed to music and arts education programs and found that in this time of a national pandemic, these programs provide a valuable way to keep students engaged in school. ESSA provides designated funding for well-rounded educational opportunities through Title IV Part A Student Academic Success and Achievement grants. NAMM Foundation research has revealed that these grants are being widely used by school districts to address instructional gaps in access to music and arts education.

"This recognition is a direct reflection of the history of the music programs at WPS and the investment our community has made in the music department,” stated WPS Director of Learning Dr. Josh Snyder. “This investment has allowed us to maintain a high percentage of student involvement in music at all levels and continue to develop new musical programs.”

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music: After two years of music education, researchers found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically trained children than in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound: young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

“The school community's commitment can be seen providing high quality music materials, access to a variety of musical experiences and top-notch facilities,” Dr. Snyder added. “Historically, there are many people who have helped Wahoo Public Schools reach this point as it is truly a reflection of the community's commitment to music education - thank you all! A special thank you also goes out to Mr. Smith, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Langholdt and Mr. Harris for their commitment to making our K-12 music program one of the best in the state and nation!"

About The NAMM Foundation

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs. For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit www.nammfoundation.org.

"The NAMM Foundation celebrates and promotes the intrinsic value of music education."

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WPS Music Education program receives national recognition!

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