Liverpool Stephanie Suarez remembers the very moment she received the news.
“It was a Saturday night at 9:28 p.m.,” the Liverpool High School choral teacher recalled. “My email thing on my phone went ‘bleep’ and it was the email from the Grammy Foundation saying we were a semifinalist. I was very happy about that.”
The email was to notify Suarez that LHS was a semifinalist in the foundation’s Signature Schools competition, which recognizes public high schools across the U.S. making “an outstanding commitment to music education during an academic school year.” Created in 1998, the Signature Schools program draws from more than 20,000 schools nationwide. Those are culled down to 123 semifinalists, of which LHS is one. According to a release from the foundation, those semifinalists are then narrowed down to a smaller number of finalists, who will receive a custom award and a monetary grant ranging from $1,000 to $15,0000 to benefit its music program. The top programs are designated Gold recipients. The best of the Gold recipients is designated the National Grammy Signature School. The remaining schools are designated Grammy Signature Schools.
Suarez found out about the program through LHS grad Josh Redden, who now works for the Grammy Foundation.
“This fall, I got a message from him saying he was going to be in town and he’d like to do a presentation on the Grammy program for the students,” Suarez said. “He talked to them about Grammy Camp and stuff, and the kids really loved his presentation. Either that night or the next night, we were just chatting on Facebook and he said, ‘You know, there’s this thing the foundation does, the Signature awards, so why don’t you apply for it through the school?’ And he explained to me what it was about, and it sounded like a pretty good thing. So I completed the initial paperwork and sent the application in.”