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NAAM Awards

Two High Schools Recognized for NAMM Award


Tesoro High School and South Orange County School of the Arts (SOCSA), which is housed within Dana Hills High School, are recipients of the Support Music Merit Award, the highest accolade offered by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM). Capistrano Unified School District is proud to have two high schools selected for this impressive honor.


Artist Director Ray Woods believes that SOCSA's "comprehensive and expanded music program has a strong, positive effect on every student at Dana Hills High School." Woods praised the consistent support of the community in addition to the SOSCA's carefully crafted curriculum, which includes regular workshop and performance opportunities. Tesoro High School has a rich tradition of musical excellence, having garnered many state and national awards over the years. In the words of Tesoro choral director Keith Hancock, "We strive to offer a wide variety of high-quality musical experiences for our students, and our community is incredibly supportive of our efforts." Both SOCSA and Tesoro have worked hard to enrich education with meaningful musical programs; their national recognition is well deserved!

According to a recent study by Northwestern University, music is a key ingredient to successful learning. Having tracked and evaluated student performances for years, NU neuroscientist Dr. Nina Kraus states that, "music can fundamentally alter the nervous system to create better learners." Researchers at Tufts USC, UCI, and UCSD have been conducting similar surveys and finding comparable results. The government has become more aware of the benefits that music can offer; in December of 2015, it enacted federal legislation to reflect this shift. The new "Every Student Succeeds Act" (ESSA) emphasizes the importance of music and the arts in a well-rounded educational program.


Although ESSA makes the future look brighter for students, meaningful change takes time. Fortunately, private organizations have stepped in to help sustain music education in the meantime.  In 2006, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) launched its foundation to "advance active participation in music making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs." Hoping to foster increased opportunities for people to participate in live music, the NAMM Foundation evaluates music programs in public schools. During its review process, NAMM looks at schools' instruction time, facilities, funding, and community music-making programs. Only 118 schools in the nation were able to meet NAMM's stringent criteria; CUSD is thrilled to have two of them. Our district makes it a priority to support the arts!

NAMM Award

Non-Discrimination Statement

The Capistrano Unified School District prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying in all district activities, programs, and employment based upon actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, ethnicity, color, religion, ancestry, nationality, national origin, ethnic group identification, sex, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, pregnancy, age, physical or mental disability or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. Reference: AR 1312.3, BP 1312.3 and BP 5183.

Rich Montgomery, Executive Director, Human Resource Services/Compliance
33122 Valle Road, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 234-9200

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