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CGHS Lettering in Music

Cedar Grove High School, NJ

90 Rugby Road, Cedar Grove, NJ, USA
Cedar Grove School District
Director: Jennifer Jessen-Foose
Category: High School Retention Program
Award: Bronze, 2019

Project Description

Most people are very familiar with the opportunity for high school students to earn a varsity letter in athletics. This is a highly sought-after achievement and recognition for hard work and dedication to a given sport. At Cedar Grove High School, students are given the opportunity to earn a letter in Music, whether it be choral, or instrumental. Music students often work continuously fine-tuning their craft. Their growth and success, especially hard work, should receive recognition, much like that of an athlete who trains and works hard throughout their high school career.

At Cedar Grove High School, we are very proud to offer students an opportunity to track their training and commitment to Music, whether it be in Choir, Band, or Orchestra. We’ve found this to be a highly successful program for student retention, allowing them to continue to track their growth and progress toward a specific goal. For example, every choir student will have the opportunity to obtain a varsity activity letter in choir. A student can achieve this by actively participating in music activities inside and outside of school and maintaining an A average in Music. Some of the activities include: attending a concert or musical, performing in a concert or musical, acting as a student helper, leading warm-up activities, participating in pep band, singing the National Anthem at various events, auditioning, and music lessons. Each activity is worth a certain amount of points. If students achieve the total amount of points necessary, they will receive a letter in Choir at the end of the school year. The total amount of points needed to letter is 100 points. Students are responsible for keeping track of their own points and getting approval of those points by their teacher. After students achieve a letter in Music, they have the opportunity in subsequent years to work toward an achievement pin. This operates in a similar way The students are excited about the opportunity to earn their letter because it is a sign of their hard work and commitment to Music which is so important to them. This year we are rolling out a Ribbon Achievement program in Choir that will also allow the students to work toward different colored ribbon achievements, as well. Hopefully, we will be discussing that program during next year’s submissions. We are very excited about that one, as well. These types of positive-reinforcement programs keep the students engaged and give them goals to work toward throughout the year. Most importantly, it gives them something very special to be proud of and a reason to remain enthusiastic in the Cedar Grove High School Music Program.

Target Audience

The target audience for Lettering in Choir is the choir students themselves. They are responsible for earning points and having them approved in order to achieve their letter.

Specific Budget Breakdown

The project itself does not have a budget. The only cost associated with this project is the actual material cost of the letters or pins.

How did you update/change this project from its previous occurrence?

This opportunity has been available to the students for a few years now. It gets updated periodically to include new ways for students to work toward achieving their letter.

Measurement of the success/effectiveness of this project?

The effectiveness in the program is evident from the increase in student participation and interest in achieving their letters and pins. The students soon realize that all of their training and development points accumulate a lot faster than they realize. It keeps them very focused and engaged in achieving their goals. While trying to amass points toward their letter/pin, they are staying actively involved in various aspects of the music program in school, while continuing their development with outside musical activities too.

Advice for someone looking to replicate this project in their own community?

A lot of the students do not realize all of the activities, training and time they put into their musical development because it is not perceived as work, but time spent doing things they really enjoy. The challenge is for the students to stay organized and track the points they achieve throughout the year. It is important to create a way of recording and approving activities that is easy for them to track progress.

Supporting Materials

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