Huntington UFSD has long boasted one of the best music programs in the country. (Darin Reed photo.)

Huntington One of Best U.S. Communities for Music

Huntington UFSD has long boasted one of the best music programs in the country. (Darin Reed photo.)

April 19, 2018

The Huntington School District has once again been recognized by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation as one of the “best communities for music education” in the country. The national awards program identifies districts with exemplary dedication to their music programs.

“I am proud to celebrate alongside the music faculty the NAMM Foundation’s awarding Huntington with a Best Communities for Music Education designation,” said Eric Reynolds, district director of fine and performing arts. “This award belongs to all in Huntington: the administrators, board of education, faculty and staff, students, parents and our community partners. Our curriculum is reviewed each year and has been consistently found worthy of the Best Communities for Music Education designation.”

Districts that have been recognized by the NAMM Foundation are often held up as models for other educators looking to boost their own music education programs. In all, 583 districts from across the United States were recognized with the Best Communities for Music Education Award. There are more than 13,500 districts in the country.

“We remain so proud of what our students and staff continue to accomplish in the arts,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “The support provided by the district pays dividends in so many regards, including the development of extraordinarily skilled and well-rounded students who enjoy learning and who represent Huntington in the finest of manners. The music program is among many jewels in Huntington. Thank you to our teachers for cultivating student talent across the grade levels, and thanks, once again, to the NAMM Foundation for the honor and recognition!”

Since the earliest days of the district, Huntington students have been offered an opportunity to express themselves musically. Today’s program is as comprehensive as any district in the country.

“The schools and districts we recognize this year – both new and repeat honorees – represent a diverse group of urban, rural and suburban districts and demographics,” said Mary Luehrsen of The NAMM Foundation. “Along with a strong commitment to music education, there are two common traits that each program shares: consistent funding that anchors music education as part of the core curriculum and music programs that are located in communities where music education is viewed as a jewel of the school system. Parents, administrators and community members are proud of these local music programs and attend them regularly.”

District music faculty and student-musicians are understandably taking pride in receiving the national award. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, Huntington officials answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program and community music-making programs. The NAMM Foundation, with the assistance of researchers at The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas, evaluates participants on these factors. Designations are made to districts that demonstrate an exceptionally high commitment and access to music education.

“The music department is grateful for the extraordinary support we receive year after year,” Mr. Reynolds said. “The trust to develop the young men and women of Huntington into the next generation of musicians and patrons of the arts is special and we strive to succeed in all we do. The music staff work tirelessly in their own professional development and performance to create progressive instruction and opportunities for our student musicians. Teachers also develop long-lasting connections with students which has built a positive, productive culture within the music department. All of these wonderful things combined proves that Huntington is one of the best communities for music education.”

The NAMM Foundation is a non-profit organization with the mission of advancing active participation in music. Visit for more information about the NAMM Foundation.

“Music and the arts are a critical component of the core curriculum, and strong community support and involvement in the arts helps build an even stronger foundation for student success in those areas of study and beyond,” said Christopher Johnson, a professor and researcher at the University of Kansas. “Along with contributing to improved graduation rates and academic success, students in quality music programs are consistently more proficient in other subjects and develop many ancillary life-long skills. We have all noticed how the most involved music students are also exceptional critical thinkers and good listeners, able to persist through all kinds of adversities. The benefits of a strong music program extend far beyond the program itself, though the primary benefit will always be the unparalleled joys that good music brings to peoples’ lives.”

Longtime Huntington High School music teacher and band director Jason Giachetti. (Darin Reed photo.)
Longtime Huntington High School music teacher and band director Jason Giachetti. (Darin Reed photo.)
Senior Will Fallon is one of Huntington's top musicians. (Darin Reed photo.)
Senior Will Fallon is one of Huntington's top musicians. (Darin Reed photo.)
Brian Stellato is one of Huntington's veteran music faculty members. (Darin Reed photo.)
Brian Stellato is one of Huntington's veteran music faculty members. (Darin Reed photo.)
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