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posted: Wed, May 10th, 2017

Mount Olive's Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

The Mount Olive Township School District is one of 4% of school districts in nation to receive distinction.

Mount Olive Township School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. MOTSD is one of 4% of districts across the nation receiving the prestigious award in 2017.

The Best Communities 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, the district 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.

Mr. Matthew Vanzini, Student Achievement Team Leader for Music for the District said, "Mount Olive has a staff of passionate, gifted teacher and performers who really go above and beyond expectations to get their students to think and learn. I believe this recognition is way overdue not only for the students and teachers, but for the administration that so genuinely supports the arts. Mount Olive is proud to be part of the top 4% of communities that received this honor."

This award recognizes that MOTSD is leading the way with music learning opportunities as outlined in the new federal education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation, signed into law in December 2015, and awaiting state implementation designates music and the arts as important elements of well-rounded education for all children.

As MOTSD finalizes its 2017-2018 budget, The NAMM Foundation's Best Communities for Music Education Award and the state level implementation of the federal ESSA law bring attention to the importance of keeping music education part of curriculum offerings and available to all students. It also highlights music's vital role in students' overall success in school and the personal benefits of making music.

Lizzy Tarallo, a senior at Mount Olive High School, has been a part of MOTSD for all of her schooling and has credited the district with helping her foster a love of music. Tarallo said, "Being a part of the choral department in Mount Olive has been nothing short of amazing. We're lucky to have dedicated teachers and facilities with which to make music."

Tarallo went on to say, "As a graduating senior I know I will still want to continue to sing and be involved with music in the future because it has been so ingrained in me since I was younger." Many other MOTSD students echoed Tarallo's sentiments, emphasizing how important music education has been in their schooling.

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music.

In a series of landmark studies by scientists and researchers at Northwestern University, a link was found between students in community music programs and lifelong academic success, including higher high school graduation rates and college attendance. In another study from Northwestern it was discovered that the benefits of early exposure to music education improves how the brain processes and assimilates sounds, a trait that lasts well into adulthood.

MOTSD is proud of its Music Department. Dr. Larrie Reynolds, District Superintendent, said, "The Mount Olive music program is the best anywhere. One only need look to the amazing array of programs that are offered our young musicians; they perform everything from Bach to the Beatles through groups ranging from the Madrigals to the Rock and Roll Academy. Where else can a kid sing at Carnegie Hall or jam during lunch breaks?"

MOTSD would like to congratulate all of its teachers and students for this recognition.

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 members around the world. Its mission is to advance 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.


Mount Olive Visual Ensemble wins second-straight state title

Members of the 2017 Mount Olive Visual Ensemble pose with their trophy after winning the state competition.

Last month in Monmouth Junction, NJ the Mount Olive Visual Ensemble competed at the USBands Indoor Championships, attempting to defend their first-place finish from the prior school year. Cementing their place atop the podium for the second year in a row, the Mount Olive Visual Ensemble finished strong, beating the rest of the competition in the Regional A Class with 85.120 points, and finishing first in the state.

The sport, known as winter guard, is an indoor color guard that usually performs to recorded music as opposed to color guard, which typically performs outdoors to live music or with the marching band.

Senior captain, Briana Lavin, said last year's win, the group's first championship, was a huge surprise at the time. Lavin said, "We were very experienced last year with a small amount of new members, but even with our experience, no one expected us to take first place in our division."

Pictured above is last year's Mount Olive Visual Ensemble's state champions.

This year, Lavin said the team did a lot of rebuilding, attempting to replace members from the state championship team that had graduated. Lavin said, "We had to reteach a lot of the basics, and the whole process felt longer in addition to it being a longer season. Personally, I was balancing Drama Club and Winter Guard, so it was very busy, but all the work seemed to pay off at that last competition when we won our division again."

After winning the state competition for the second year in a row, Lavin said, "As captain, I could not have been prouder of my team and what we accomplished this season. The growth I was able to watch was outstanding."

Shannon Smith, another member of the team, said the winter guard is made up of mostly high school students but there are a few Mount Olive Middle School students who participate as well. Smith, who has spun a six-foot flag the past two years among other equipment, said, "Last year our show was entitled 'These Four Walls,' with music by Little Mix. This year our show was entitled 'Pillar' with the music 'Believe' by Cher but arranged by Carrie Bradley."

Natasha Mason, a graduating senior in winter guard said that being a member of this team has meant a lot to her over the past few years. Mason said, "I've learned so many things, such as discipline, family, and responsibility. I've learned how to work together with people and through that the winterguard became a family. It is something I take pride in. If I never joined winterguard I wouldn't be where I am today, and I am pleased with who I have become. It is something I hold close to my heart and even though I'm graduating, I am eager to watch it advance and grow in the future years."

In regards to competing Mason explained how much work goes into the performance: "We practice a lot for competitions and strive to become the best ensemble. A lot of us feel very proud when we get off of the performance floor, because even if as an individual we didn't have a good show, we work together as a group and we learn from our mistakes. The adrenaline we get, the trophies we win, and the hours we work to get where we are, they lead to success."

The past two years the winter guard has been directed by Mr. Rick Delancy, who is also the color guard director for the marching band.

The marching band is still looking for more guard members for the 2017-2018 season, and anyone interested in joining can see Mr. DiEgidio for more information.

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Mount Olive High School
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