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March 22, 2017


MRH Wins National ‘Magna Award’ for High School R&B Band Program

2017 Magna Awards NSBAThe Maplewood Richmond Heights School District has been named one of fifteen honorable mention winners in the 23rd annual Magna Awards program for its Blue Devils Rhythm and Blues Band. Sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA’s) flagship magazine, American School Board Journal (ASBJ), 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 Magna Awards are supported by Sodexo.

This is the third time in six years MRH has been honored with a nationally prestigious Magna Award. In 2012, the district won the Grand Prize for its work with Joe’s Place, and first place in 2014 for its student-run computer help desk.  Additionally, the R&B Band was one of only three schools from across the country invited to perform at the NSBA annual convention in New Orleans in 2014. The band was the convention’s opening entertainment at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

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 Board believes that the central organizing feature of our schools is the curriculum that puts the District’s beliefs about teaching and learning into action,” said MRH Board of Education President Nelson Mitten. “The successful overhaul of the music curriculum has produced a renewed interest in our fine arts program by our students and strengthened our ties with the community and beyond.”

MRH Blue Devils Rhythm & Blues Band group photo on stageThis year’s three grand prize, 15 first place, and 15 honorable mention winners were selected by an independent 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.

“Creativity and innovation are needed to help students realize their full potential,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director and CEO. “The Magna Award-winning districts are prime examples of how public schools all over the country are working to give students a high-quality education and life.”

“This honor is yet another acknowledgement of the pioneering and successful practices that MRH is known for across the country,” added MRH Superintendent Karen I. Hall. “We will continue to enhance our curriculum and innovate with our programs to positively impact student achievement.”

The 2017 Magna winners are highlighted in the April issue of ASBJ and will be formally recognized on Saturday, March 25, in Denver, Colorado, at the School Leaders Luncheon, which is part of NSBA’s Annual Conference.

2017 Grand Prize Winners

Upper St. Clair School District, Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania
Piscataway Township Schools, Piscataway, New Jersey
Vancouver Public Schools, in Vancouver, Washington

2017 First Place Winners - under 5,000 students

East Williston Union Free School District, Old Westbury, New York
Swan Valley School District, Saginaw, Michigan
Teton County School District 1, Jackson, Wyoming
Tillamook School District 9, Tillamook, Oregon
Windsor C-1 School District, Imperial, Missouri

2017 First Place Winners - 5,000 to 20,000 students

Blue Springs School District, Blue Springs, Missouri
Hazelwood School District, Florissant, Missouri
Hilliard City Schools, Columbus, Ohio
Topeka Public Schools, Topeka, Kansas
Vail Unified School District, Vail, Arizona

2017 First Place Winners - over 20,000 students

Clarksville-Montgomery County School System, Clarksville, Tennessee
Detroit Public Schools Community District, Detroit, Michigan
Henrico County Public Schools, Henrico, Virginia
Manatee County Public Schools, Bradenton, Florida
Springdale School District, Springdale, Arkansas

2017 Honorable mentions – under 5,000 students

Bellefonte Area School District, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
Coffeyville Public Schools USD 445, Coffeyville, Kansas
Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, Maplewood, Missouri
Three Lakes School District, Three Lakes, Wisconsin
Valley View ISD, Pharr, Texas

2017 Honorable mentions – 5,000 to 20,000 students

Widefield School District 3, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Raytown Consolidated School District #2, Raytown, Missouri
Midway Independent School District, Woodway, Texas
West Shore School District, New Cumberland, Pennsylvania
Hamblen County Department of Education, Morristown, Tennessee

2017 Honorable mentions – over 20,000 students

Austin Independent School District, Austin, Texas
Denton Independent School District, Denton, Texas
Fresno Unified School District, Fresno, California
Peoria Unified School District, Glendale, Arizona
Richland School District Two, Columbia, South Carolina

National School Boards Association: The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA believes public education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children should have equal access to an education that maximizes his or her individual potential. The association represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S.

For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.