Sahuarita High School's music students received their first Grammy award Tuesday.
The students didn't win record or song of the year, but accepted an Enterprise Award from the Grammy Foundation for the quality of the school's music program.
Representatives from the Grammy Foundation, as well as the Ford Motor Company Fund, attended the ceremony at the high school and presented an oversized check to students from the jazz ensemble, orchestra, choir and color guard.
The award includes a $5,500 grant, which the school will use to purchase new instruments and fix older ones.
After the presentation, the foundation hosted a question-and-answer session with local studio owners, musicians and a music publisher to discuss the realities of the music industry.
"It was pretty amazing that we were recognized because of how small we are," said Sahuarita High School senior Jennifer Miraval, 18, who is band president and plays the clarinet.
The award was created to recognize schools that have strong music programs but could still use financial help.
The school was one of 10 from around the country to be named a Grammy Signature School and one of six to receive a cash award, said David Sears, executive education director of the Grammy Foundation.
About 500 schools submitted applications, Sears said.
Sahuarita's jazz ensemble persuaded music department officials to complete an application, which included submitting a resume of songs the students performed.
"The kids work very hard. They have a lot to offer to our student body," said Tom Herrera, who directs the jazz ensemble and choir.
The award is important because the music department still uses some instruments and equipment that has been around since the 1960s, Herrera said.
"Our district does a lot, but only so much can be done. There are certain things we need to do to keep things maintained," he said.
The school will use the money to buy an electronic piano and overhaul its saxophones, said Christine Garcia, the school's band and orchestra director.
The new instruments are desperately needed, said Dainera Daniel, 17, a senior who sings in the choir.
"Every year, we always have the same stuff. It's always one thing or another that messes up or doesn't match what we need," Daniel said. "We need new stuff."
Contact reporter Jamar Younger at email@example.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger