“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”Henry Ward Beecher, 19th century clergymanThis bit of wisdom seems to be the perfect lead in to celebrate the achievements of three local organizations in the area of art and music.On Dec. 7, the newest feature of Waxhaw’s First Friday will feature a gallery crawl, or more to the point, a horse-drawn carriage gallery shuttle that will take patrons from Eight Legs Gallery to Stewart’s Village Gallery every 30 minutes, 6:30-9 p.m.This is just the latest undertaking of the Waxhaw Arts Council. Over the past year, they have made tremendous strides in promoting art and creativity in and around our community.Created in 2009, the Waxhaw Arts Council has succeeded in drawing the local artistic community together in ways that seemed out of reach not that long ago. Continuous art showcases, youth mentoring programs and live art demonstrations are part of the mix that is helping Waxhaw become the new arts center of South Charlotte, says Arts Council Secretary Lambeth Marshall.Music programs excelAnother local initiative that originated in 2009 is the Cuthbertson High School instrumental music program.The program has grown from 29 students four years ago to 138 members. Today the program supports two concert bands, a jazz band, an indoor percussion ensemble, a winter guard unit and an innovative rock band – as well as the Mighty Marching Cavaliers.Susan Messina of the Cuthbertson Band Boosters wrote to tell me the middle school and high school concert bands had been selected to perform at the N.C. State Music Educators Conference, this year held in Winston Salem on Nov. 10-13.Both bands performed on Nov. 12.Messina said Cuthbertson was accepted in its first year of eligibility, and it’s rare that both schools would be selected.The success of the Cuthbertson instrumental music program is credited to its student performers, supportive school and district administration, excellent parent booster organization, and the husband-and-wife teaching team of Todd and Katie Ebert.Just up the road, The Marvelous Marching Mavericks of Marvin Ridge High School continued to achieve musical performance excellence.Readers may remember that last March I wrote about the band as they performed around the Emerald Isle and throughout the streets of Dublin, Ireland, as part of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of continuing to follow the efforts and wins of the band. For 2012, they took first place at the Band Beat Competition in Fort Mill in early November.From my front porch, I hear the Mavericks as they begin practice in the heat of August, and I can vouch for the effort the student musicians put forth.It’s comforting to see excellence displayed on so many fronts in and around Waxhaw.Artists, musicians, parents and teachers, please take a bow.