Natchez-Adams School District named 2021 Best Community for Music Education

Published 9:27 pm Thursday, September 9, 2021

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NATCHEZ — The Natchez Adams School District has been named a 2021 Best Community for Music Education in the United States by the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation, school district officials said.

Natchez has “always had a stellar music program,” Natchez High School Choral Director Travanti Hills said, adding former Natchez Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis was once a music teacher at Natchez High School years before.

“As I am sitting in the room now, I’m looking at trophies all over the place,” he said.

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NASD Superintendent Fred T. Butcher recently received a congratulatory letter from Gov. Tate Reeves for the district being honored by the NAMM Foundation, which celebrates and promotes the intrinsic value of music education.

The Best Communities for Music Education Award is a signature program of the NAMM Foundation that recognizes and celebrates school districts and schools for their support and commitment to music education and efforts to assure access to music for all students as part of a well-rounded education.

To be chosen for the award, the district participated in a survey that was developed in partnership with the Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas. Survey questions are aligned with goals for equity and access to music education for all students and national standards for music education, school officials said.

“We’re very fortunate to have a certified music teacher at every school in our district,” NASD Public Engagement Coordinator Ernest “Tony” Fields said. “That is very rare nowadays. All of our kids as teach school are getting a quality music experience.”

The districts music program offers various music courses such as elementary music, general music, strings, beginner band, intermediate band, advanced band and chorus with ensembles for middle and high school students, school officials stated in a news release Wednesday.

Natchez Adams school officials congratulated the NASD music staff, which includes Fields, Susie Ellis, Monquez Ford, Travanti Hills, Hannah Jackson, Braxton Mitchell, Corey Ramsey, Terrance Robinson, Curtis Smith and Marcus Washington.

Fields has served as the choir director last year at Natchez High School, he said.

“Year before last, we did a Christmas Musical at all of the schools, one of the highlights of our program.”

Hills said that program had unfortunately been canceled last year due to COVID-19, but with the district returning to in-person learning this school year there is hope of bringing it back.

“All of the music programs in the district came together to showcase each department,” Hills said. “It was a phenomenal evening, held at the Natchez City Auditorium. … We’re rebuilding now post-COVID and trying to get things back and doing the best that we can to instill the gift of music in our students.”

Hills said at least 400 to 500 elementary middle and high school students benefit from Natchez Adams Schools’ music education programs. This is year three of Hills teaching choir at Natchez High, he said.

“(Getting this award) feels really great, and pretty unexpected,” he said.