The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation has named the Southern Berkshire Regional School District and its music education department as one of its 2014 "Best Communities for Music Education."

This national award designates 376 districts as BCME honorees, and 96 individual schools as "Support Music Merit Award winners."

Now in its 15th year, the BCME program evaluates schools and districts based on funding, staffing of highly qualified teachers, commitment to standards, and access to music instruction, according to the NAMM Foundation website (nammfoundation.org). More than 2,000 schools and school districts participated in this year’s survey resulting in a 21 percent increase in designations.

Southern Berkshire is the only district in the Berkshires to have been evaluated and recognized with this distinction.

The NAMM Foundation, with the assistance of researchers at The Institute for Educational Research and Public Service of Lawrence, Kan., evaluate participants on these factors.

"These schools and districts make a strong commitment to music education in the core curriculum supporting its essential value to a well-rounded education for every child," said Mary Luehrsen, NAMM Foundation executive director. "Strong, engaging programs that offer students access to music cannot thrive in a vacuum. The Best Communities designation and the SupportMusic Merit Award bring hard-won visibility to music classes, programs and departments that are keeping music education alive in our schools."

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The 1968 nautical musical "Dames at Sea" is set to hit Broadway sometime this year, but before it does, fans of the show can wax nostalgic this week as the Apollonian Players of Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton take on the production.

The Wahconah show takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday and at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for students and senior citizens, and may be purchased at the door or in advance at O’Laughlin’s Pharmacy on Main Street in Dalton.

According to an article in Playbill, the professional theater industry publication, "Dames at Sea," was the Off-Broadway musical that helped launch the career of Tony winner Bernadette Peters, who played the lead role of Ruby. The production has previously appeared at the Bouwerie Lane Theatre, Theater de Lys, the West End’s Duchess Theatre and Haymarket Theatre.

According to the production’s Broadway website (damesatseabroadway.com), the show is a "tap-happy, navy-crazy celebration of the golden era of movie musicals with a heart as big as the ocean!"

With a book and lyrics by the late George Haimsohn and Robin Miller, music by Jim Wise and musical direction by Rob Berman, the Broadway version will be directed and choreographed by three-time Tony Award nominee Randy Skinner, Playbill said.

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Just next door in Dalton, music students at Nessacus Regional Middle School, under the direction of Andrew Garcia, have been exploring "Music In America."

Garcia said that as a group they are "coming to our own definition of what that means by learning about music from different time periods throughout American history and by different performers," from Native American music to jazz to Civil War-era music to the British Invasion of pop.

Students created projects using a mix of Google App and PowerPoint slideshows, posters, works created in iMovie software, and traditional paper documents and reports The students shared their work at school through the month of March, which was also Music in Our Schools Month. The projects can still be viewed on the Nessacus music department blog here: http://nrmsmusicinamerica.blogspot.com.

This exploration culminates at 7 p.m. Friday, with a concert titled "Music in America." It will include music from the Colonial era through today, including audience sing-alongs, and a nod to Pete Seeger and the Guthrie family. This event is open to the public, and donations will be welcome.

The lobby will be decorated Americana style. There will also be refreshments and local veterans have been invited to attend.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.