The Farmingdale Music Department was presented with the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Presidential Citation Award, NYSSMA's highest school district honor, during a Board of Education meeting at Howitt Middle School Wednesday night.
Farmingdale is one of the two districts in New York State to receive this honor this year and the 19th school district to receive the honor since its inception in 1984.
The award is granted to school districts that are recognized as having outstanding district-wide music programs and have participated at NYSSMA festivals.
"It is something that as a community and as a district you should be very, very proud of," said NYSSMA President Elect and the Fine Arts Director of Massapequa, Dr. David Gaines.
"[Farmingdale] is a very committed faculty of which you can very proud. They represent the best music education has to offer. I am confident saying that based on student achievement and by any growth measure, you have a department that is truly highly effective," said Gaines.
Rita Zirpolo Padden, who has served as the Fine Arts Director of Farmingdale for 17 years, said she is pleased with her student's achievements.
"It has really been a joy for me to see this program grow. We are very grateful to NYSSMA for this award…It really does take a village to educate a child. I am so grateful to the teachers for the work that they do, their passion and their dedication is just unparalleled and that's really how this happened," she said.
One of the 15 honored Farmingdale High School students, Olivia Gordon, gave her input on the award and her participation at the NYSSMA All State Music festival this year.
"All-state really changed me, said Olivia Gordon, one of the 15 honored Farmingdale High School students. "I went from beginning as just a vocalist to a musician. It opened my eyes to how wonderful music is. I didn't know how much talent could really be in one room.
"It such a wonderful experience and I encourage anyone with young children out there to keep them in music because it really is a powerful thing. It's life changing, Gordon said. "It's eye opening… I'm so blessed to live in a school district that really allows the music department to flourish."