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West Branch’s music education program receives national recognition

“It is unheard of for a school the size of West Branch to do all the musical productions and concerts we do,” said Krista Clay, the school district's middle and high school vocal music instructor.
West_Branch_Musical_Cast
With COVID-19 social distancing restrictions in place, the West Branch Local School District had two casts for its “Cinderella” musical to accommodate audience members. (Contributed photo)

BELOIT — West Branch Local School District was honored with the "Best Communities for Music Education" designation from The NAMM Foundation for its commitment to music education. 

The designation is awarded to school districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students, a news release states.

The district’s music education program includes Elementary General Music, Middle School Choir, Middle School Band, History of Rock 'n’ Roll class, High School Marching Band — including majorette squad and color guard squad — High School Concert Band, High School Jazz Band, High School Concert Choir and High School Women's Choir. 

There are also a number of extracurricular music activities throughout the schools, including Middle School Show Choir, Middle School Jazz Band, High School Show Choir and three to four musical theater productions per year.

“It is unheard of for a school the size of West Branch to do all the musical productions and concerts we do,” Krista Clay, the school district's middle and high school vocal music instructor, said in the release. “We offer middle school extracurricular ensembles — the jazz band and show choir. There are very few middle schools that are able to do this, especially within a small, rural school district.”

To qualify for the designation, West Branch 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.

Lakeview Local Schools was also awarded the designation.