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Standing amongst the crowd in front of him at the Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Dr. John Molnar delivers a speech as the 2017 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association’s Outstanding Superintendent Award winner. He stands proudly as he discusses the importance of music, student engagement, and the need of funding for the arts. Cameras flash and record him as 26 Southmoreland High School students stand on the balcony above him, listening in to what would be a major deal to the Southmoreland School District.
On March 20, selected students from Southmoreland’s Tri-M honor society, concert band, and chorus traveled to the state capital to support their superintendent, Dr. Jack Molnar.
Dr. Molnar was awarded with the 2017 Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA) Outstanding Superintendent Award.
“I think my favorite part of the experience was looking down on our superintendent speak on music education, and seeing twenty-seven young faces wrapped around the balcony of the second floor of the Main Rotunda,” Southmoreland High School concert band director Mrs. Jamie Gore said during the trip. “These kids are watching because they care, and they have a genuine love for the arts. It was a very special moment.”
Southmoreland students and teachers said they are thankful to have a superintendent like Dr. Molnar who fights to keep the arts alive.
“I’m very happy that Dr. Molnar won; I feel honored to have him as a representative of our school. He is a kind, humble man who always puts the students of the district before anything else,” said senior and choral president Lily Fullem. “He can connect with the students on a friendly and professional level, which I really admire in an administrator.”
Mrs. Gore agrees.
“(Dr. Molnar) goes above and beyond as a superintendent. He has been to nearly every Tri-M (music honor society) induction ceremony, and he has read narrations for us before we play pieces at concerts,” Mrs. Gore said. “He has also given opportunities to teach more music classes, which is probably very hard to do in a time of budget cuts and testing.”
Dr. Molnar handled his big achievement in a humble manner.
“It’s exciting to be recognized in such a way,” Dr. Molnar said. “It’s especially an honor since I was nominated by people within the Southmoreland School District. It was quite a surprise to me.”
The day started in the early hours of the morning, with the students arriving at 5:45 to the high Sshool. From there, they began their travels in a coach bus to the capital.
They stopped at a rest stop twice, once in the morning and once on their travels back, eating meals from places such as Starbucks, Auntie Anne’s, Burger King, Hershey’s Ice Cream, and more.
They arrived at the Capitol Building shortly before 10 a.m., where they toured the historical building. They got to see rooms in the building such as the House of Representatives, the Senate, and more.
“My favorite part of the trip was totally being with my friends and spending quality time in such a beautiful, historical, art form of a building,” Fullem said. “I loved the historical paintings and of course the chandeliers, they were gorgeous.”
After their tour, the press conference started. From 11:30 to noon, PMEA representatives spoke in the Main Rotunda. Dr. Molnar got to speak at this press conference in one of the most important buildings in the state amongst many intelligent educators.
Fullem cares for the arts, and she is very proud to have it as a part of her life.
“Music has helped me overcome many different obstacles in my life; whether it was home troubles, when I moved out here leaving behind my home and friends, or if I’m sad, nervous, or excited,” said Fullem, who is from Chicago. “The possibilities are endless and music is just always there for all of it; the big, the small, the ups, the downs.”
A special concert is in the works for Dr. Molnar that is scheduled for May 9 at 7:00 in the high school auditorium. This concert will feature student performers from the district; both vocal and instrumental.