Wichita school district recognized as among best for music education

04/25/2013 5:11 PM

04/25/2013 5:13 PM

The Wichita school district is one of five in Kansas to be listed among the 2013 Best Communities for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants, district officials announced Thursday.

The designation recognizes schools or districts that preserve music programs and make music education a vital part of their curriculum.

“Our (school) board continues to support music and fine arts, and that makes a difference,” said Shawn Chastain, coordinator of fine arts for the Wichita district.

More than 30,000 students from kindergarten through 12th grade are involved in the Wichita district’s music programs, from twice-a-week music classes in elementary schools to high school bands, orchestras and choirs, Chastain said.

“There is overwhelming research tying music education to higher overall student success in school and in life,” said Mary Luehrsen, executive director of the California-based National Association of Music Merchants, in a statement on the group’s website.

“This designation recognizes communities for their commitment to music education and strengthens support for these programs.”

Two years ago, the Wichita district eliminated its fifth-grade orchestra program and cut several middle school band and orchestra teaching positions as part of nearly $28 million in budget cuts.

At a middle school band festival at Stucky Middle School on Thursday, however, Chastain said participation in school bands and orchestras has remained steady.

“The numbers are there,” he said. “There’s still a lot of interest in music. … even with so many other activities competing for students’ time.”

Four other Kansas districts – Goessel, Norton, Spring Hill and Westmoreland – also made this year’s Best Communities for Music Education list.

Editor's Choice Videos

Join the Discussion

The Wichita Eagle is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service