Gettysburg, SD

GHS honored for outstanding commitment to music education

Gettysburg High School was one of 66 schools across the country honored as a recipient of the SupportMusic Merit Award.
The announcement came on Monday from Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who sent a letter to vocal music instructor Jessica Larson congratulating her on the award. Gettysburg and Kimball were the only South Dakota schools selected for their outstanding commitment to music education.
The SupportMusic Merit Award is awarded to individual schools that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.
To qualify for the SupportMusic Merit Award, a survey was filled out to answer 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 Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kansas, an affiliate of the University of Kansas.
The honor was presented by the NAMM Foundation, which  is a nonprofit organization supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants. Its mission is to advance active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving and public service programs from the international music products industry.
The SupportMusic Merit Award is an important part of the NAMM Foundation’s efforts to advocate for school-based music education. Numerous studies have demonstrated that learning to play music can boost other academic and social skills, such as math and learning to cooperate in a group. The NAMM-funded Cost of Music Education study found that a comprehensive K–12 music education program cost an average of $187 per student per year in the sample district.
A SupportMusic Merit Award is an opportunity for an individual school to be acknowledged for its commitment to music education. It is a ‘school-only’ distinction awarded as part of the Best Communities for Music Education survey, which acknowledges schools and districts across the United States for their commitment to and support of music education in schools.
Throughout the survey’s 14-year history, many districts have reported that making the “Best Communities” list has strongly impacted their ability to preserve music education for their students amid budget cuts in arts programs.
According to Larson, making the prestigious list has important meaning. It is well-deserved recognition for the school, leaders, teachers and parents who believe in music education and are working to ensure that it is part of a complete education for children. It also holds the community up as an example to others in regards to community support and commitment to music education, and it highlights the important nationwide topic of music education in general.
In addition to the vocal music program, Justin Jensen serves as the instrumental instructor at GHS.
For more information about The NAMM Foundation, please visit

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