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‘We work extremely hard’: WCSD earns music education award

Whitehall-Coplay School District was named one of the 2022 Best Communities for Music Education by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation (NAMMF).

WCSD music teacher and band director Matthew Tanzos said the district was recognized for “outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of a well-rounded education.”

Edward Hong, former Whitehall High School music teacher, chorale and Drama Club director, had applied for the award.

According to Tanzos, WCSD is one of 738 districts nationwide to receive the honor. While there was no formal award given, the district was recognized by the NAMMF on both its website and social media accounts.

In order to apply for the award, the music department had to submit an application with information such as the music teacher-to-student ratio; district music course offerings; and the number of students who are involved in music department activities and performing ensembles, along with awards and recognitions they have received.

“Our entire music department was very pleased and excited to receive this recognition, as it is a testament to the hard work and dedication that goes into our music program, from teachers to students to parents to administration and the school board,” Tanzos said. “We work extremely hard to provide top-level opportunities and experiences for our music students, and this award was validation that we are meeting those goals.”

Tanzos believes some of the factors that contributed to the recognition include music course offerings and the successes of the performing ensembles. Music classes at WHS include concert band, concert choir, several levels of music theory, piano I and II, vocal class, theater classes and popular music. Tanzos said WHS offers more music courses than most schools and also provides music classes and extracurriculars to kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

Tanzos said the WHS Marching Zephyr Band’s success over the past few years also contributed to the award.

“Over the past several seasons, our marching band has enjoyed tremendous success, winning four straight Cavalcade of Bands Open Class Championships and even being selected to perform in a national Sunoco advertisement, which I imagine caught the attention of the selection committee,” Tanzos said.

“Too often, we get caught up in standardized test scores and lose sight of the reality that not everyone is a math whiz, history buff or outstanding writer, but that there are other areas of life and the real world where kids can learn supremely valuable lessons through involvement in the arts,” Tanzos said. “Some may even show an aptitude for it to go on to become professionals in the music industry/field, but at the end of the day, everyone involved can take away positive values and virtues, such as responsibility, teamwork, expression, dedication and commitment, which are important pillars in just about every aspect in life that you just cannot get the same amount of exposure to from your core academic classes alone.”

Tanzos said the music department will be submitting an application for next year’s award by Jan. 31, 2023.