Peru schools nationally recognized for music programs

·2 min read

Apr. 28—PERU — There's a rich history of arts in Peru.

There is, of course, the Peru Amateur Circus and International Circus Hall of Fame. The city is home to multiple art galleries, including the multi-million dollar art collection in the Peru Community Schools Fine Art Gallery.

Can't forget Cole Porter and the yearly festival named after the local composer and songwriter.

Peru schools is a major player, too. The high school art department produces Scholastic Award winners somewhat frequently.

The school district's music program is fully integrated. This means music classes and programs are available to all students, regardless of ability.

That commitment, specifically to music, hasn't gone unnoticed. For the second consecutive year, Peru Community Schools is the recipient of a Best Communities for Music Education designation by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation.

The NAMM Foundation is a nonprofit that advocates for music participation through supporting scientific research, philanthropy and public service programs.

The recognition goes to school districts and individual school buildings that "demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students," according to a news release.

"We've been very fortunate at Peru for many years to have support not only at the building and district level but also the school board," said Jason Gornto, music department chair for Peru Junior-Senior High School.

For example, the Peru School Board contributed $5,000 that allowed the Peru High School swing choir to take an all-expenses paid trip to Carnegie Hall in March.

"They put their money where their mouth is," said Superintendent Sam Watkins.

Incoming superintendent Jaime Cole congratulated the school district on the award.

"Winning the 2023 National Award is an amazing accomplishment demonstrating a well-rounded education," Cole said via text. "Music is exhilarating and uplifting. I'm excited to join a district that has an active music and arts program."

Peru schools is the only district in Miami County with a licensed music teacher in every school building, according to Gornto.

"It's a very good, thriving place for a student who has an infinity for the performing arts," Watkins added. "It's a wonderful, wonderful place for the arts."

Gornto said the city's history is the reason why the arts continue to have such an importance not only at Peru schools but in the community.

"The community has always rallied around performers, that continues today," he said.

"It's always been ingrained here," Watkins added. "Drama, arts, music, the circus, the community supports those types of activities."

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.