“Every year, we submit a portfolio of what we do, what our students do, what ensemble does and the teachers,” said Tyler Wiernusz, instrumental band teacher. “It goes through the University of Kansas, and the professors there determine what communities are pushing for the best music education in the country.”
Wiernusz later added the district, collectively was named to be in the top 4 percent of the country in music education.
In the district, Wiernusz said students are taught how to play an instrument, read music, learn about music theory and join the various performance groups to participate in competition or events such as WJBR’s Christmas competition, B101 school choir contest and performing for the New Jersey Music Educators conference that only five ensembles are chosen for (Clearview had two in the same year attend).
“We believe in challenging students within what we do,” said Wiernusz. “We’re promoting music at the highest levels, musical literature that is above high school levels, and ensuring students are prepared for their venture in their lives.”
Students have felt the impact of this education, especially senior Mackenzie Gehringer, who learned how to play the oboe in middle school.
“Not a lot of schools have that option of a wide range of instruments,” said Gehringer. “I was able to find a tutor through the school to help because it was new to me.”
She added since be a part of the music program for the past six years, she’s been able to participate in a variety of competitions to put the school on the map.
“You’re starting from nothing and to be able to get to the level the wind ensemble is at in high school is mind-boggling because you’re starting with nothing, and now have the knowledge of repertoire and technique by the time you’re 15,” said sophomore Jasmine Dickson.
Devon DiVerniero added the program gives everyone the opportunity to “test the waters” and be able to see what they could do with music and how far they can go in the program.
Wiernusz said the teachers in the district also strive to share their talents with the two lower districts and the community, such as with Sept. 11 memorials, Memorial Day parades and smaller occasions.
“It’s not just a series of programs that you see at the high school, it’s a series of programs we strive to share with the greater community,” said Wiernusz. “We take pride in getting our ensembles out to the community.”
Compared to their friends in other districts, the students said they can tell who is and isn’t from Clearview by looking at how well-rehearsed they are, and seeing the school taking a more prideful approach to their music programs versus being laidback.
“The directors here have confidence in their capabilities and our capabilities that they’re willing to push us to the next level to a near collegiate level of music making,” said junior Ben Taylor. “That’s something you can’t find in a typical high school.”
Despite the national recognition, the students said they can tell how much the teachers care about what they put out, but it’s not the main focus of what they do.
“It’s an open and welcoming program that gives people the opportunity to learn that making mistakes and trying new things is okay,” said senior Juliana Smith. “It gives us a new avenue into music.”
“It’s very fulfilling to know that you’re a part of something that’s so impactful,” said Taylor. “Whether or not you realize it, someone’s moved, every note we sing people are relating to it and to know that we’re apart of that is something special.“