At a fall Board of Education meeting, James Clemens High School Band Director Keith Anderson shared the many accomplishments of the Fine Arts programs within Madison City Schools. We all know how accomplished our students are, but hearing all of those accomplishments shared at once was simply astounding.
I am excited to share Mr. Anderson's words and to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of our teachers and students.
Mr. Parker, School Board Members, Madison City administrators, and Community Members:
I’m here this evening first and foremost to thank you for your support of the Fine Arts in Madison City Schools. As a school system that strives for excellence in the three pillars of education: Academics, Arts, and Athletics, the Fine Arts teachers in our respective schools take our responsibilities in that effort very seriously, and we want to take a moment to voice our appreciation for the continued support of our programs and the students we serve.
Our elementary schools now have 4 full time music teachers and 4 full time art teachers, allowing for increased time in all 7 elementary schools and our pre-K center as well. The increased staffing means increased time given and exposure to the Arts at a vital developmental age, especially as we all strive to teach the whole student.
Each of our middle schools now have two full-time band directors and one full-time choir director. At Liberty, our theatre students are served by one full time and one half time teacher, and at Discovery we have two full time theatre teachers. Liberty has two full time visual art teachers, with Discovery having one full time and one half time visual art teacher. Mrs. Newquist, teaching visual arts at Heritage and West Madison, and Alicia Mulloy, Choir Director at Liberty, are also National Board Certified Teachers.
Our high school Fine Arts students are served by two full time band directors, two full time visual art teachers, two full time theatre teachers, and one full time choir director. Of those 14 Fine Arts teachers, 5 are National Board Certified Teachers: Amy Patel, Clint Merritt, Liz Vaughn, Robin Lakso, and myself.
It is because of the support of this school board, superintendent, and the respective schools’ administrators that we have such a robust faculty of Fine Arts teachers. Collectively, we serve well over 5,000 of our Madison City students. Because of your support and the love for the arts that our students have, our Fine Arts programs and classes are known locally, regionally, and nationally for their exemplary quality in both individual and ensemble performance.
Our visual arts students have won local, regional, and national level awards, and have a 100% pass rate on AP Art portfolios. Our journalism and film students have been nationally recognized as well, including JetsPress teacher Clay Combs being awarded Film Teacher of the Year at the All American High School Film Festival earlier this month.
One or both of our high school theatre programs have earned Best in Show at state Trumbauer events every year since 2012. In 2015, the top two one-acts from Alabama were Bob Jones and James Clemens, and both went on to represent the state of Alabama at the Southeastern Theatre Conference. Bob Jones is the only school in the 10 state Southeastern Theatre Conference to win SETC Best in Show 3 times.
Our middle school and high school choir programs consistently earn superior ratings at adjudicated events and best in class awards at competitive events. They send multiple students to college honor choirs and last year, Bob Jones and James Clemens choirs tied for the most students in the Alabama All-State Choir. The James Clemens choir recently performed at Carnegie Hall, and the Bob Jones choir recently performed in the Vatican.
Our middle school and high school band programs also consistently receive superior ratings in adjudicated events and are regularly awarded with multiple Best in Class awards at competitive events. Our middle school band programs compete in and win national level competitions in Orlando and place multiple students in college honor bands and the Alabama All-State bands. Jenney Merritt, band director at DMS, was also selected to be our Madison City Schools Secondary Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Merritt would like to personally thank the school board for her being selected for this honor, as it shows that all educators are equally valued regardless of academic discipline.
Our high school band programs feature multiple quality ensembles, including marching band, two concert bands, jazz band, indoor drum line, percussion ensemble, dance team, and winter guard. Our ensembles have been selected for many state level events, including both high school wind ensembles being featured performers at the University of Alabama Honor Band, and in January of 2020, at the Alabama Music Educators Association convention, a Madison City ensemble will perform for the 5th straight year.
These achievements, honors, and opportunities would not be possible without the support of our community, our administrators, and our school board members. Please let me once again thank all stakeholders for their collective investment in the Arts in Madison City through not just vocal support, but making staffing decisions that allow for our Madison City students to have such rich and rewarding experiences.
Madison City Schools is a special family of people. Thank you for supporting us and allowing us to change our students lives through their participation in the Arts.