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Council Bluffs Community School District’s Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

The Council Bluffs Community School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. 

The Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to school 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 submitted an application that detailed the breadth of music offerings, public showcases, and support for school music programs. Responses were reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

According to Superintendent Dr. Vickie Murillo, the school district is one of only five in the state to receive this designation. “We are proud to provide an impressive array of music education and performance experiences for students at all grade levels,’ she said. “We have outstanding music teachers who lead enriching music programs for our students.”

Michaela Hill, visual and performing arts curriculum specialist, submitted the application on behalf of the school district, knowing the strong emphasis that is placed on music education and experiences.   

This award highlights the emphasis on fine arts within our school district as well as within the community,” Hill said. “We want to celebrate our variety of music programs, and share how music education is an important part of so many of our students’ enriching school experience.“

Vocal music is provided to all elementary school students. At the middle and high school levels, nearly 400 students are in band, 213 in orchestra, and 450 students in choir, with 212 students in the show choirs.  

The variety of experiences students have to showcase their talent include the all-city band, orchestra and vocal music festivals, the district-wide Fine Arts Talent Showcase, parades and community performances. Student musicians successfully rank in competitions and the state contest and are invited to be part of area honor bands. 

Partnerships with area professional arts organizations have further strengthened the music program. Students have the opportunity to participate in the Omaha Symphony Music Mentor program, Holland Center Link Up, and the Omaha Performing Arts Musical Explorers, 

According to NAMM, research into music education continues to demonstrate educational, cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. Music enhances the important skills of conflict resolution, teamwork, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

"In addition to improving overall academic achievement, music education provides a unique opportunity for students to engage and improve social interactions,” Elmer Ellefson vocal music teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School said. “Individual effort and responsibility towards a group goal encourages teamwork in a creative setting." 

In the announcement prepared by NAMM, the Best Communities for Music Education designation recognizes that the Council Bluffs School District is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children. 

About The NAMM Foundation
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,400 members around the world. The foundation advances 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