Montezuma-Cortez Middle School this week was among only 80 schools in the country to receive a SupportMusic Merit Award for its commitment to music education.
The award, presented by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation, was awarded to schools this year that made a point of emphasizing the importance of music education despite the many challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a news release, M-CMS was the only school in Colorado to earn the distinction.
To qualify, M-CMS answered a series of 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.
“It has certainly been a crazy year,” band teacher Andrew Campo told The Journal. “It’s been a very unusual year.”
Band students have been unable to do full practices together or perform for the public this school year.
Practices have instead been done in smaller groups spread throughout the day.
Despite the challenges, Campo believes that the school and the district were always committed to maintaining the strength of the music program.
“This is really about what kind of efforts you make as a district team to keep your programs alive during the pandemic,” Campo said.
Resources provided by the district included personal protective equipment, cleaning materials and tents that allowed students to practice together outside.
Students and staff also followed rigid guidelines when practicing indoors.
Instead of primarily focusing on performance and competition this year, teachers emphasized enjoying music for music’s sake.
“It’s been ‘let’s have some fun playing music and appreciate the opportunities we do have,’” Campo said.
Campo hopes the band will be able to have a parade this fall.
The M-CMS music program was awarded nationally last year for its inclusiveness and excellence.
“This is such an incredible honor for our music program to be recognized yet again this year, and it carries such unique weight this year compared to last,” M-CMS Principal Drew Pearson said in a statement.