The Arts

Rockville Centre Schools’ Music Education Program Receives National Recognition
Rockville Centre Schools’ Music Education Program Receives National Recognition
District is one of 4% of school districts in nation to receive distinction

Rockville Centre, NY – April, 2024

For the eighth consecutive year, Rockville Centre School District has been honored with the Best Communities for Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. Rockville Centre is one of 4% of districts across the nation receiving the prestigious award in 2024.

The Best Communities Music Education designation is awarded to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, district administrators answered detailed questions about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. Responses were verified with school officials and reviewed by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

As Rockville Centre UFSD finalizes its 2024-2025 budget, The NAMM Foundation’s Best Communities for Music Education Award and the state level implementation of the federal ESSA law bring attention to the importance of keeping music education part of curriculum offerings and available to all students. It also highlights music’s vital role in students’ overall success in school and the personal benefits of making music. Music and the Arts in Rockville Centre Schools have always been important to the social emotional development of our students.

Rockville Centre offers General Music instruction alongside Band, Orchestra and Choral ensembles in all of its elementary schools. South Side Middle School and High School give students the opportunity to explore music composition, sequencing and engineering in modern music laboratories equipped with electronic instruments and computer software and hardware. The secondary school students also continue to develop their performing skills in higher level instrumental and vocal groups, including Jazz ensembles. The high school offers 11th and 12th graders IB Music, a comprehensive music curriculum that integrates performance, composition, and research at the commencement level.

Students who live in Rockville Centre have had a broad range of opportunities to perform in community-based theatre troupes, bands, orchestras, and choirs, as well as county level advanced performing ensembles where they can use and improve the skills they learn in school.

About The NAMM Foundation
The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about the NAMM Foundation, please visit

Gala Acceptance Speech

Thank you first to my wife Joanne. Some people tell me that I am even tempered and calm. Joanne knows the real me – neurotic & anxious, and she knows all my levels of crazy – and has accepted all of it with grace and love for 44 years. Love you! My children are here – Thank you Nicole & Larry and Greg & Kelly who also put up with my crazy and make me a very proud and happy Dad and Grandpa.

Probably the only other individual who has insight to my real crazy outside Joanne and my children is Stephanie Xanthus, my secretary, who has made the last dozen years so smooth and easy for me– Thanks Steph!

Have you ever seen the film “Mr. Holland’s Opus?” A 1995 film starring Richard Dreyfus, who portrays a music teacher who begins his career in suburban Oregon in 1964. The film follows his life as a music teacher, husband and father over the next 31 years during which he touches the lives of thousands of HS students. The film ends as Mr. Holland is about to retire and he finds out that because of BOE budget cuts and the need to prioritize reading and math, the music and arts programs are being cut and he is not being replaced.

As the dejected old man packs up his desk, and begins to shuffle out of the building, his wife ushers him to the HS auditorium where he is greeted by a house packed with all the students he touched over his 31 years giving him a standing ovation. The governor of Oregon (one of his HS clarinetists) gives a speech extolling him and his legacy and introduces a band of alumni who play his “American Symphony.” The big tear jerker is when the governor tells him that his symphony is not his great opus, but that “…we, your students are Mr. Holland’s opus!”

This movie never fails to piss me off! Why?! After the credits begin to roll, I think – the BOE still cut the music program!! You mean the governor didn’t have the juice to get some funding to that district?!

Well, tonight I tell you that Dr. Zuar’s Opus is a much better movie with a much happier ending. As this old man gets ready to shuffle out of here in June, I leave a community who loves and supports the arts.
Organizations like this Education Foundation and the Arts Sponsors are very generous with their support. I leave behind a superintendent, district administration, principals and assistant principals and a BOE that are equally supportive. Most importantly, I leave a group of teachers who will ensure that quality music and art instruction will engage and inspire students well into the future, led by a young and dynamic Arts Administrator!

So, the next time you see Mr. Holland ‘s Opus on TCM, just remember: The ending of Dr. Zuar’s Opus is better! Thank you!!

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