Music Program Receives Two National Awards

Alumni Band Festival, Teacher/Admin Collaboration Recognized
Posted on 01/23/2019
Alumni Band Festival 2017

Northbrook District 28 has been honored with two Advocacy in Action Awards from Music for All, Inc., a national music education organization.

The Advocacy in Action Award designation is presented to music programs, schools, and communities across the United States that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide access to music education for all students.

District 28 received awards in two categories, Recruitment & Retention: Gold award for “Alumni Band Festival,” and Decision-Maker Interaction: Bronze award for “Success through Collaboration.” A national panel of educators, administrators, community leaders, and business leaders selected the winners.

The Alumni Band Festival is a biennial event celebrating the tradition of excellence in the band program. The event is held in December on alternating years, scheduled strategically to attract alumni who will be home from college for winter break, and close to the time when eighth-graders will register for freshman classes.

Over the years, returning alumni have spanned more than 50 years. Alumni can participate at a variety of levels. Regardless of the participation, it is meaningful to our students.

“(Alumni) feedback – through their participation and stories they share during the reception following the event – makes it clear that they value deeply the experience from their time in our band program, as well as the opportunity to give back to the program, positively impacting the choices of their younger colleagues,” Mr. Scapillato wrote. The alumni band program has buoyed student participation in high school band to nearly 80 percent.

The Decision-Maker Interaction award, “Success Through Collaboration,” represents the value the district places on music education and its impact on students.

“A culture of respect and support between administration and the music educators in District 28 benefits students, and contributes to thriving music programs,” Band Director Greg Scapillato wrote in the application. “It is the constant nurturing of this collaborative relationship that is a hallmark of Northbrook School District 28, and is accomplished through active efforts from both administrators and music educators.”

The District 28 instrumental music program has four concert bands, beginning with 4th grade, and five orchestras, beginning in third grade. The choral ensembles begin in sixth grade and rehearse during lunch periods or before school. The bands and orchestras rehearse as full ensembles before school, in addition to receiving private or semi-private lessons once a week during the school day.  Between the bands, choirs, and orchestras, over 700 students are involved in the performing ensembles in District 28.

Beyond the performing ensembles, general music in District 28 has a rich curriculum for K-5 students, provided as a class for 30 minutes, twice per week. At the elementary level, this curriculum culminates for first through fourth grades with Winter Sing performances and a spring musical for fifth grade. At the junior high level, students have a range of options to explore music-making as an elective as well as an annual musical in the spring of each year.

 “In the end, we all believe and have the same philosophy, that Music Education is good for our children’s brains and it's good for their souls,” said Superintendent Larry Hewitt.

District 28’s two awards are part of the Music for All Advocacy in Action website ( ) which is a clearinghouse of practical advocacy examples that can be adapted and replicated by programs nationwide. By collecting, recognizing and sharing outstanding examples of local advocacy efforts, Music for All ultimately hopes to inspire others across the nation to take action in their own communities.

(Pictured: The Alumni Band Festival, a biennial event, was last held in 2017 and brought together alumni spanning 50 years with current band students.)

Learn more about the band program by viewing the videos below, submitted for the competition: