Unique Music Program at Lourdes Academy
In many schools, a lack of funding has resulted in the arts taking a backseat to academics. In middle and elementary schools, music and art programs are the exception instead of the norm.
At Lourdes Academy, the arts get equal billing at all grade levels. Jason Hastings starts with the youngest kindergarteners, focusing on basic rhythms represented by shapes and colors to middle school students playing instruments in the school band.
“Lourdes Academy is among a minority of Catholic schools with a full-time music teacher,” explains Hastings. “Even more unique is our band program for 5th through 8th grade. This focus on music isn’t often available to elementary and middle school students.”
It’s a benefit David and Ana Maria Romero didn’t realize a robust music program in a Catholic school was an option for their children when they moved to Daytona Beach in 2020.
“We moved here from Fairhope, AL, and didn’t think Catholic school was an option financially for our children,” said David Romero. “We didn’t have the scholarship opportunities for private schools in Alabama like they do here in Florida.”
As the Romero children, eighth-grader Isabella Marie, sixth-grader Emma Grace, fifth-grader David Jr., and second-grader Elizabeth Kate began school at Lourdes Academy, each began participating in the music programs. Now two of the children, Emma and David, are in the school band. Emma plays the flute, and David has started the clarinet. They come to school at 6:50 a.m. each school day to practice with the band.
“Mr. Hastings has done an outstanding job with the kids. He has patience, charisma and is very dedicated to their musical development,” said David Romero.
Hastings came to Florida for a visiting professor role at Bethune-Cookman University. When a colleague approached him about the Lourdes Academy job, he never considered taking a teaching role in an elementary and middle school.
“The more I thought about the opportunity,” Hastings recalls, “The more I realized I left full-time performing to take on full-time teaching so I could work on turning around the decreasing appreciation of music. I was just doing the same thing with younger children.”
It worked – after six years at Lourdes Academy, Hastings, like many of the other teachers, staff, and parents, call Lourdes Academy, a family.
“It truly does feel like a family environment at Lourdes Academy,” recognizes Hastings. “All the faculty, staff, and administration really support each other throughout all that we do. Having worked in different jobs where this was not always the case, well, Lourdes was a refreshing change!”
“So many people encouraged and welcomed us at Lourdes Academy,” says Romero. “I never thought we would have an opportunity to provide this type of education to our children.”
Hastings is excited to be a part of the success of the students.
“Music in the students’ curriculum is important for their growth,” recognizes Hastings. “There have been many studies proving a link between improved math scores and music study. Lesser known, perhaps, is that there is an increased comprehension of grammar as students improve their ability to recognize rhythm/rhythmic patterns. They learn how to break something difficult down into small pieces, work on that problem strategically, and experience the success that comes from this focused, sustained practice. Those skills can help in all facets of life.”
Aside from the academic benefits, Hastings loves to be a part of the joy of making music for its own sake.
If you are interested in learning more about the family environment and music program at Lourdes Academy, schedule a school tour by contacting the school office at 386-252-0391 or email Enrollment Specialist Mirth DeWitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.