North Wasco County School District’s Music Education Program Receives National Recognition

THE DALLES, OREGON – April 16, 2020 – The North Wasco County School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 21st year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, The North Wasco County School District answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music programs, Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

“North Wasco County School District has always prioritized the importance of music education” said Superintendent Candy Armstrong. “The District was formed sixteen years ago as a consolidation of two smaller districts. During the course of sixteen years we have seen many lean times and have had to reduce staff and cut programs, but we have always valued and kept
music programs in place including the elementary level. As we face yet another uncertain funding future based on the current COVID 19 crisis, this designation will not only bolster the morale of dedicated music staff, but will also highlight the values of our District and our community in keeping music programs in place.”

This award recognizes that The North Wasco County School District is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation guides implementation in the states and replaces the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which
was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

“As an educator and mother of three very active and diverse children I am a big believer in the Arts and Music education” said Lindsay Lebreton, parent of a current eight grade choir student. “ I have seen my own students and children struggle through the reluctance to learn A-typically through books, paper or pencil. However, there is something supernatural that happens when learning is reinforced and coupled with rhythms, songs, and the cadence of music. The brain ignites and responds both internally and externally. Music connects time and space in a way that brings pleasure to the listener. Without these additional pathways of learning offered to
them through our community and school district, I often wonder how successful they would be at applying their learning and finding their purpose. Music not only connects people throughout history, it celebrates,.. it mourns…it stamps the memory and primes the pump for social and emotional peace. Music is a gift given to the people. Thank you to The Dalles community and D21 for continuing to develop music programs, foster imaginations, and not neglect the bright minds of this world.”

Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. After two years of music education, research found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores that their less-involved peers and that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically-trained children that in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to: perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound; young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism.

Zoa Lebreton is an eighth grade choir student at The Dalles Middle School. Zoa says, “Music is an art form, it’s a way to express your feelings. It’s an outlet that helps me get through things the way that sports and people and life experiences can’t always help. Music has always been a part of
my life from the time I was really little. I can remember songs I listened to at home, or the gentle strum of my grandpa’s guitar, or my own made up songs. Music is memories. If we didn’t have music we would never have been taught this outlet, this refuge, this way to escape the madness
of life. That’s why I think it is so important to focus on this in schools. I’ve been so blessed to have learned a lot throughout elementary, beginning band, and middle school choir. It has exposed me to other cultures, times in history, and new languages. It bonds and connects students, teachers, and even our parents and audience members.”

A 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation, “Striking A Chord,” also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.

North Wasco County School District serves approximately 3,000 students from Kindergarten through 12th grade, and employs about 390 teachers, administrators, counselors and support staff. North Wasco proudly promotes and celebrates the diversity among our students,
employees and community members by providing a small town atmosphere with strong community support for education along with a variety of cultural activities, including a community theater and concerts. North Wasco has five full-time music specialists including three
elementary, one middle school, and one high school music teacher.

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