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Fraser schools recognized for music education

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published April 6, 2016

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FRASER — Harmonies echoing from Fraser Public Schools continue to receive national acclaim.

For the fifth year in a row, the district was recognized by the nonprofit National Association of Music Merchants, or NAMM Foundation, with its Best Communities for Music Education designation.

Out of 13,515 districts across the country, 476 were recognized in what is now the foundation’s 17th year of doling out praise to schools that remain committed to music education programs.

“The schools and districts that the NAMM Foundation honors this year with this award demonstrate a commitment to supporting music education and assuring opportunities for music learning in the curriculum for all students,” Mary Luehrsen of the NAMM Foundation said in a statement. “We are moving from a time when curricula were narrowed due to pressure from testing and test-prep remediation to a broader view of what is important for all children. That includes access to a well-rounded education — and an opportunity to learn and grow with music and the arts.”

Fraser Public Schools has remained consistent in that endeavor, allowing students to participate in music classes while they are in kindergarten. By fifth grade, students can choose to participate in band or audition for the Fraser Youth Choir.

Richards Middle School and Fraser High School present a plethora of musical opportunities: concert, show, symphonic and a cappella choir classes; and marching, jazz, symphony and varsity bands.

The Performing Arts Career Academy at Fraser High even offers a particular curriculum for students interested in a music or performing arts career beyond high school.

Fraser Public Schools Superintendent David Richards said music education has been a staple of the district for many years. A dedicated and consistent staff combined with an array of different courses has taken the program to new heights.

“It really speaks to our entire community,” Richards said. “Many of our school-of-choice families come to us for the music program. They have talked with their friends and neighbors and heard about the level of excellence and energy that we enjoy.

“The recognition also speaks to the commitment our families have made to music education in Fraser. We have such great parent support and, as a result, our kids enjoy some amazing experiences — like performing at a college bowl game, marching in major parades and competing at the national level.”

Jim Rodgers, who has been the high school band director since 2000 and the instrumental music department head since 2004, said an increase in musical participation comes from established traditions within the district.

He said the most growth occurred from 2000 to 2006, and it has stayed consistent throughout every schooling level.

Richards added that growth is still occurring. He cited the marching band as an example: Band members surpassed the 200-number mark about four years ago, and in the 2015-16 school year, there are 245 members.

That phenomenal growth rate reveals that numbers are increasing even though enrollment has stayed at the same number overall, he said.

“An award of this magnitude demonstrates the commitment that Fraser Public Schools has to the comprehensive education of the students, including music,” Rodgers said. “Through the support we receive from the administration and the community, and the outstanding teaching staff at all levels of the district, the music program continues to reach a high standard of achievement.”

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