MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 22, 2013

Cherokee solution hits right note


— Music might be the right answer to encourage better attendance at Cherokee Elementary School.

Cherokee has been losing students for years.  The school has lost nearly one-third of its attendance over the last nine years — from 351 in 2004 to 226 at the end of the 2013 school year.

That’s alarming.

But the plan authored by the Muskogee Public Schools has a nice ring to it.

Cherokee Elementary will begin having a focus on music this school year.

Muskogee has two magnet elementary schools — Ben Franklin is a science academy and Sadler is an arts academy.

Pershing Elementary has a focus on technology, though it is not an official magnet school.

MPS has an opportunity to help revitalize an elementary school and build a creative environment for budding musicians.

The schools teach the traditional subjects through the eyes of science, arts, technology and now, music.

For instance,  Cherokee music teacher Shelly Beck said “music is harmonics, which is math.

“When you’re writing music, you’re using the same part of your brain you would writing poetry. On the other hand, the counting part of music uses the same part of the brain used for math problems.”

Students who love music should be able to better grasp lessons in math taught with a musical understanding.

The idea has great potential.

The year after becoming a magnet, Sadler recorded Oklahoma’s highest gain in test scores, said retired Principal Maudye Winget.

Here’s hoping the experimental focus at Cherokee is such a success that the school is revitalized and MPS might consider making it a magnet school.