When Westfield High School Band Director Mark Sands began teaching in 1998, he had 28 students in his band. This year, Sands instructs 160 students and said other music programs like the choir have grown similarly.
“Getting the word out the music program exists is an important aspect,” he said.
In addition to performing classes, WHS offers other music classes including history, theory and introduction.
“We worked really hard to get established,” Sands said. “It’s nice to have the hard work students put in recognized.”
To assist the bands, Mayor Andy Cook proclaimed March as “Music in Our Schools” month.
“Music and the other arts significantly enhance the morale and quality of the school environment and plays a significant role in preparing children for a productive role in our society,” Cook said. “The City of Westfield proudly supports our many students and teachers who dedicate their time and talent to music performance and education and congratulate all for their extraordinary contributions to our community.”
Officials said the study of music contributes to young people’s development through heightened skills in listening, reading, self-expression and creativity. It also engages the youth in individual and group activities and provides a competitive edge for students.
“It’s very important to highlight the fact that as Westfield grows, every kid finds a niche, a goal and something they are passionate about,” WHS Principal Stacy McGuire said. “They develop a passion or a career and something they will do for a long time.”
One student who found her passion for music in sixth-grade is WHS senior Sara Barker, who plays the clarinet.
“We do find a niche in the school. It gives us as individuals an opportunity to find out who we are working through music,” she said, adding the proclamation was “well deserved.” “Students in high school and schools before strive to improve what they do.”
WHS senior Aaron Smith said the recognition from the city and school district is a huge accomplishment for the program.
“I really can’t imagine going through a school day without music,” he said. “I can’t imagine not having that release … Schools losing their music programs horrifies me.”
Smith began playing trumpet in sixth-grade and switched to percussion in seventh.
“(Music) is a good way to express yourself,” he said. “It is something that is constantly challenging. There is always something new to work on and develop.”