Tesoro High School has been honored with the SupportMusic Merit Award from the NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Tesoro joins 118 schools out of over 100,000 schools across the country in receiving the prestigious award in 2016.

The SupportMusic Merit Award is awarded to individual schools that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

To qualify for the SupportMusic Merit Award, Tesoro High School was analyzed in the areas of graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. All information was reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

This award recognizes that Tesoro is leading the way with learning opportunities as outlined in the new federal education legislation, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The legislation, signed into law in December 2015, replaces No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which was often criticized for an overemphasis on testing —while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children.

“It brings me joy to see that Tesoro continues to be nationally recognized as an exemplary model of a comprehensive music program,” said Keith Hancock, Tesoro choral director. “We strive to offer a wide variety of high-quality music experiences for our students, and our community is incredibly supportive of our efforts.”

The NAMM Foundation’s SupportMusic Merit Award and the implementation of the federal ESSA law bring attention to the importance of keeping music education part of the school’s core education for all students. It also highlights music’s vital role in students’ overall success in school.

Community music programs have been drawing increased attention because of a landmark study by Northwestern University brain scientists. These researchers found new links between students in community music programs and academic success in subjects such as reading.

Beyond the Northwestern study, other reports indicate that learning to play music can boost academic and social skills, such as processing math and learning to cooperate in group settings.

A 2015 study, “Striking A Chord” supported by the NAMM Foundation, also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum.

Tesoro High School serves nearly 2,500 students in South Orange County in the Capistrano Unified School District. They were selected as one of five Grammy Signature Schools of Excellence nationwide. In addition, the vocal and instrumental ensembles have been recognized by ACDA and CMEA, and have performed several times in Carnegie Hall and at concert halls around the U.S. and Europe. The three music faculty members, Keith Hancock, Andy Magana, and Cathy Olinger, have received multiple awards from the Orange County Department ofEducation.