MAPLEWOOD, NJ — South Orange and Maplewood were nationally recognized again this year by the NAMM Foundation as one of their 2021 Best Communities for Music Education Districts.

The NAMM Foundation “celebrates and promotes the intrinsic value of music education,” according to its website.

“This honor confirms that the comprehensive music education programming we provide in South Orange Maplewood schools via the Fine & Performing Arts Department is robust and competitive nationally,” said James Manno, Supervisor of Fine Arts for the South Orange Maplewood School District. 

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He said the district has received the award for at least nine years in a row. “For the students, it means they have access to quality music programs ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade, including having the experience of learning a musical band or string instrument starting in grade 5.”

Manno, who has been with SOMSD for five years, also noted that future honors such as this are subject to budgetary decisions for music classes this fall and beyond, after most students have not had in-person vocal or instrumental lessons in more than a year.

“It's important to note that the data used to determine the award was pulled from the year prior to COVID. In order to maintain the Best Music Communities status it's important that the arts and music programs receive the additional funding and support needed to help students catch up on musicianship skill instruction that was severely compromised in a virtual learning environment.”




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