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As educators plan for the 21st century, there’s a big push to focus on STEM subjects. Some parents and teachers worry this will come at the expense of the arts but the town of Foxboro is making sure that isn’t happening there. As you watch these children gather instruments and focus their attention you might mistake this for a conservatory of music. But these are 5th graders at Ahern Middle School in Foxboro where music is at the center of the school.

The commitment to the music program is impressive – while some students are practicing in the orchestra every single one of their classmates is either singing in the chorus or across the hall playing in the band at the same hour every day.

Others learn music technology.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity because many schools don’t have this,” one student said.

“It’s helped me learn how to play the flute and how to sing better,” another added.

“We want our students to leave with just a love of music for their whole lives,” said Orchestra director Cami Tedoldi. Tedoldi, a graduate of the program herself – believes Foxboro’s long-standing tradition of musical excellence was a matter of will.

“The town and the administration for a long time have really believed that that’s valuable here in Foxboro,” Tedoldi said. “That our students need music as a part of their education.”

Her former teacher Ted Hagarty is in his 41st year at the school and recalls that as budget cuts came, that commitment was unwavering; the music department was treated as an equal with all other subjects. “It gets put into the entertainment category – and it’s not,” Hagarty says. “What we’re doing is teaching a subject – it’s a discipline.”


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