Musical emphasis in West Allis-West Milwaukee schools recognized

Elementary school musicians perform at the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District Youth Art Month open house March 2.

Elementary school musicians perform at the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District Youth Art Month open house March 2.

April 1, 2014

West Allis — For the second year in a row, the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District has won for its combined communities recognition as being among the Best Communities for Music Education in the United States from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.

Through the award, the foundation applauds outstanding efforts by teachers, administrators, parents, students and community leaders who have made music education part of the core curriculum. West Allis-West Milwaukee is one of 13 Wisconsin districts honored.

"It shows our commitment to the whole student," said District spokesman Brian Vissers.

"Our philosophy is creating the whole student," he added. "Our School Board has made it a priority to offer these programs."

According to Vissers, West Allis-West Milwaukee offers band, orchestra and choir from elementary through high school.

Band starts in fifth grade, orchestra in fourth, although children can take Suzuki violin in kindergarten, and choir/chorus starts in either third or fourth grade.

Hoover Elementary School orchestra director Sue Stachelski said she sees the impact music education has on her students every day.

"They budget their time better, they learn to concentrate, they learn to follow directions in a different way, they become more artistically sensitive," she said. "Not that we are doing things that artistically advanced, but they see things in a different way."

Youngsters also gain confidence and self-esteem, Stachelski said. And by the time the young musicians get to high school, their musical accomplishment is remarkable, she added.

The other Wisconsin winners this year are the Kettle Moraine School District, the School District of Fort Atkinson, the Chilton Public Schools, the United Community Center Inc., the Kimberly Area School District, the Frederic Area School District, the Delavan-Darien School District, the Hortonville Area School District, the Watertown Unified School District, the Pulaski Community School District, the Whitewater Unified School District and the Ripon Area School District.

Out of the nation's 13,588 school districts, the foundation designated 376 districts as Best Communities for Music Education. Evaluations are based on funding, staffing by highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards and access to music instruction. Researchers at the Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kan., an affiliate of the University of Kansas, evaluated the districts on those factors.

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