NAMM Award

For the third consecutive year, the Marion School District has been honored with the “Best Communities for Music Education” designation from The NAMM Foundation for the district’s outstanding commitment to music education.

Now in its 25th year, the Best Communities for Music Education designation is awarded to school districts that demonstrate the ability to offer outstanding music education to all students in grades K-12. To qualify for the Best Communities designation, districts must meet criteria related to funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs. Information is verified by The Music Research Institute at the University of Kansas.

Marion was the only school district in Arkansas to receive the “Best Community for Music Education Award” for 2024. Nationwide, only 975 school districts received this honor.

“Music education is a vital component to the academic program we provide for our students,” said Dr. Glen Fenter, Marion superintendent. “We have immense pride in all our programs, whether it’s the band, the choir, or any of our musical productions from the elementary to the high school level. It’s important to us that every student in our district has a chance to find their own path to success, and for hundreds of our students, music fills that role.”

Fenter also pointed to research that demonstrates the cognitive and social-skill benefits for children who have access to strong music programs at school. For instance, in one study, researchers found that students involved in school music programs showed substantial improvements in reading scores and the ability to process speech when compared to their less-involved peers. Studies also show that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college.

Over the past several years, Marion has made significant investments in its music programs, committing to professional quality theater productions and musical performances. The results are paying off. Over the last several years, the band and choir programs have consistently earned top ratings at state and regional assessments and more than a dozen Marion alums are now attending college on music scholarships. The Marion Band program has experienced unprecedented growth and will exceed 480 students in grades 7-12 next fall.

“Our students are succeeding in every possible avenue provided by the music offerings in our district,” said Monty Hill, Marion director of bands. “We have great instrumental and vocal music programs at the secondary level that are supported by tremendous music programs at the elementary grade levels. The school district provides unbelievable resources for all music programs, and our administration and school board are totally committed to providing first-class programs for all of our students.”

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit supported in part by the National Association of Music Merchants and its approximately 10,300 members around the world. The foundation advances active participation in music-making across the lifespan by supporting scientific research, philanthropic giving, and public service programs. For more information about The NAMM Foundation, visit

The Marion School District is an innovative and growing district committed to helping every student find their unique path to success in school and in life. With more than 150 years of experience serving families in Crittenden County, the district offers a high school, a junior high, a seventh grade school, and three award-winning magnet schools. For enrollment information, including information on school choice, visit or call 870-739-5100.