The Maplewood Richmond Heights School District has been named one of 15 honorable mention winners in the 23rd annual Magna Awards program for its Blue Devils Rhythm and Blues Band, the school has announced.
The Magna Awards recognize school districts and their leaders “for taking bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of students and their communities,” the school says.
From the Magna Award website: Over several decades, the student population steadily declined, causing enrollment in music classes to decline as well. The school board recognized the need to restore student interest, increase student achievement, and reconnect with the community. The district created and developed in the fine arts curriculum the Blue Devils Rhythm and Blues Band, a modernized, nontraditional, and cutting-edge music and dance ensemble to replace the larger concert band…”
The winners were selected by a panel of school board members, administrators and other educators from more than 200 submissions in three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students, and over 20,000 students.
The band, led by instrumental music teacher Jason Harris, features a restructured and innovative music curriculum that better meets the needs of today’s students and is crafted around project-based learning activities. It also serves as an ideal model of the High School’s “school as apprenticeship” metaphor, as well as a successfully functioning non-traditional music program designed for the 21st century, the school district says.