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Massena Music Friends name winners in music essay contest


MASSENA - Massena Central School students didn’t have to play an instrument, sing a tune or dance a number to take in Music In Our Schools Month.

They simply had to write essays and submit them to the not-for-profit Massena Music Friends group as part of a contest recognizing the month-long March celebration.

Massena Music Friends President Paul A. Haggett said students in grades four through eight were asked to pen an essay on “What’s so cool about music in school?” High school students wrote about how their involvement in the school music program made them a better student. About 25 students in grades four through 12 took part in the essay contest.

Mr. Haggett said they hoped to accomplish two things with the essay contest.

“First, we really wanted students to think about their place in the overall program, what they get out of being musically involved and write about it,” he said.

Their second objective, he said, was “to provide a way for the voice of our students to become part of the rallying cry for the Massena school music program.”

Mr. Haggett said that, while the Massena Music Friends can talk about the value of music in the schools, “what these students had to say says it much better than we ever could.”

Student essays were judged and the winners received prizes that included donations from Mainly Music in Massena and Northern Music and Video in Potsdam. Other prizes included gift certificates and tickets to this weekend’s Massena High School production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” The Massena Music Friends also awarded a soprano recorder for the elementary prize winners and gift certificates and a Hilo brand “Raider Red” beginner ukulele for older student winners.

“Each school building was treated separately for the purpose of awarding prizes,” Mr. Haggett said.

The winners were Deven Hubbard and Alexia Savage at Madison Elementary School; Emma Kenny, Ethan Larrow and Quze Lamu at Nightengale Elementary School; Sophia Williams at Jefferson Elementary School; Emily Allen and Kali Joslin at J.W. Leary Junior High School; and Samantha Villnave and Aubree Raine Swart at Massena High School.

All of the essayists said music was important part of their lives.

“What is so cool about school music? Well, to me, music helps me express how I feel about some problems with life. Music helps me when I’m in troubled time. For example, if I’m having a hard time in school, after the day is over, I go home and listen to music. If it wasn’t a rough day, I’ll just go home and listen to it for fun! Music to me is just a way to get away from problems, live my life and have fun, but to most importantly, be a kid,” at Nightengale Elementary sixth-grader Emma Kenny said .

“Music is how I get to be me at school. The energy that I get simply from carrying my viola down to the practice room is so reassuring. I have a place in both my school and my world. Being able to skip down the hallway and sing is my greatest pleasure in school. It’s so wonderful to talk to my music instructors like they’re my best friends and just chill in their rooms whenever. Schools are constantly trying to get students to embrace their individuality and pronounce who they are. If it weren’t for the many music programs I’ve been warmly welcomed into, I wouldn’t be able to do that,” high schooler Aubree Raine Swart said.

All of the student entries will be posted on the Massena Music Friends website at, and many will appear on the letters to the editor page of the Daily Courier-Observer. In addition, the winners’ entries will be on display in the high school lobby during this weekend’s musical.

“MMF thanks the students for their excellent essays, the MCSD music staff for their help in promoting the contest to their students, and our two great local music stores for providing some wonderful prizes for the winners,” Mr. Haggett said.

He said Music In Our Schools Month allows individuals and groups to stress the importance of school music, “that is not ‘an extra” but a core part of the education program with benefits to students that go far beyond playing an instrument or singing on stage.

“I encourage people to go to our website and check out the letters to the editor over the coming days to find out just how much music impacts our kids, as expressed in their own words,” he said.

The letters will appear in the Daily Courier-Observer beginning Tuesday.

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