BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi School District is dedicating this month to celebrating its achievements. The district already ranks third in the state for academics. Now, it's getting national recognition for having one of the best music programs in the country.
It shows Biloxi is setting the bar in music education.
Members of the Biloxi High Show Choir are tuning up their voices for a competition next week. They have always been proud of their musical achievements.
Now, a national organization is also singing the praises of Biloxi's music programs. The National Association of Music Merchants Foundation named Biloxi as one of the best communities for music education.
"That's amazing. It was definitely a shock to me, because we've never gotten a huge award before for our school for music," said Biloxi High Senior Katie Glydewell.
The foundation evaluated the music classes offered in Biloxi from kindergarten through high school, the number of students enrolled in them, the number of music teachers and financial support from the district.
Out of 2,500 entries, 376 districts were chosen as finalists. Biloxi was the only district in Mississippi to make the distinguished list, giving it reason to toot its own horn.
"We're very, very excited about it, because we think Biloxi is a very special place and the music program is growing. It's just another feather in the cap of the school district," said Travis Coakley, Biloxi High School Director of Bands.
Music programs have grown at every school in Biloxi, at a time when some districts are cutting back on extracurricular activities. For instance, three years ago, Biloxi Junior High had 75 band members. Today, that number has jumped to 350, and every elementary student receives music instruction at least once a week.
"There's a big class of sixth graders that's coming up, so they're going to come in knowing this is a good program for them, and it's going to better them and it betters us," said Biloxi High Senior Haleigh Smith.
For the seniors who plan to major in music, like Katie Glydewell, what better way to leave Biloxi schools than on a high note?
"I started when I was a freshman, and I knew that I loved music. I didn't know that's what I wanted to do with my life. So when I started show choir that's, when I knew I really wanted to do this as a career," said Glydewell.
"They want to be a part of something successful, and our music programs offer opportunities for students later in life for scholarship opportunities, and the parents are very excited about that," said Coakley.
The Biloxi School District received a certification of achievement and posters to display.