Cape Elizabeth schools receive national music honor

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The school district has been recognized as having one of the best music education programs in the country.

The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation named Cape Elizabeth one of 476 top school districts in the country for music, and the only one in Maine.

Caitlin Ramsey, an instrumental music teacher at Cape Elizabeth Middle School, applied for the recognition in January and was notified that the district won in March.

“I think we’re deserving of this award because of the community’s strong support of music education,” Ramsey said.

Of the 1,600 students enrolled in Cape Elizabeth schools, around 1,300 take music classes or participate in music as an extracurricular activity, according to Ramsey. Music class is required at the elementary and middle schools, and elementary school students also have the option of being in chorus. Middle school students can participate in band, chorus, or jazz band.

The high school doesn’t require students to take music classes, but it offers guitar, music theory, and jazz improvisation. For extracurriculars, there are three jazz bands and five jazz combos.

Of the 259 fifth- and sixth-graders enrolled at the middle school, 226 performed in a band and chorus concert April 5 at the high school.

“At the middle school alone, 70 percent are in music ensembles,” Ramsey said. “I think parents understand the value of music education.”

To apply for the NAMM Foundation award, Ramsey had to answer essay questions about why the school district deserves the award and answer other questions about enrollment and offerings. 

There are four full-time music instructors and one part-time between the three schools in the district. Ramsey said she and the other instructors are very excited about the award. She said it’s the parents, students, and community at large that make the music program the success it is, though.

“We do what we do, but it’s the parents’ support and the kids’ involvement that really made this happen,” Ramsey said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

The Cape Elizabeth Middle School fifth-grade band performed for a packed house at the school’s spring concert April 5 in the Cape Elizabeth High School gymnasium.

The Cape Elizabeth School Department has been recognized for having one of the best music education programs in the country. Middle school instrumental music teacher Caitlin Ramsey, who led the band at the April 5 concert, nominated the schools for the award.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.