McAllen ISD named "Best Community for Music Education" by national music foundation

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POSTED: Friday, March 22, 2013 - 3:16pm

UPDATED: Sunday, March 24, 2013 - 1:54pm

Today fifth graders set to go to Dr. Rodney D. Cathey Middle School next Fall are being shown their future options in the fine arts.

It's a time in their life when they can choose to go into band, orchestra or choir. Angelica Martinez, 14, remembers getting to see a similar performance when she was in fifth grade.

"And I thought they were amazing and that inspired me, and I thought, hey I might as well pick up the violin," said Angelica Martinez, student.

Now in eighth grade, she is considered one of the top music students for her grade. But top musical performers are the usual in the McAllen Independent School District.

In fact, this school district is considered so musically talented they were just named "Best Community for Music Education." It's a national award only a few hundred school districts receive. It's given out by The National Association of Music Merchants' Foundation.

"Ya know, I read the criteria and I though we are a shoe in for this award," said Karen Herrera, McAllen ISD Fine Arts Director.

Fine arts education is considered an essential in McAllen ISD.

"We pride ourselves at McAllen, yes we want our students to score well on standardized exams, but we want to round out our children," said Dr. James Ponce, McAllen ISD Superintendent. 

That's why the fine arts department at McAllen ISD continues strong, even though other fine arts departments across the state have been slashed and cut down.

"But when it came down to it, we realized that going forward we needed to do whatever we needed to do to make sure we continue that support for our fine arts," said Dr. Ponce.

And students agree, the fine arts are a big help while in school.

"It's kind of like my escape route, ya know when I am stressed and everything, I just pick up my instrument and I feel like I am in my own little world," said Martinez.

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If the Fine Arts is considered an essential to MISD, they should show more support for their theatre programs. Facilities, budget, professional development, are all embarrassingly low in regards to Fine Arts and in particular the Theatre Arts. I used to teach in MISD and they do NOT act as though fine arts is essential. Congrats on another (inaccurate) bragging right.

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