For Immediate Release
March 11, 2008

Art students take center stage at State Capitol Arts Education Week ceremony

Event recognizes 2008 arts education poster contest winners; encourages communities to celebrate Illinois Arts Education Week, March 10-16

SPRINGFIELD — Dozens of students from throughout Illinois showcased their talents in the Rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol as part of the 26th annual Illinois Arts Education Week. The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recognized the student winners in the statewide arts education poster contest. The ceremony was part of Illinois Arts Education Week, which is March 10-16, and highlights the importance of the fine arts to our students and culture with the theme, “Inspiring Learning through the Arts.”

“The arts play a pivotal role in our students’ lives, and are just as important as math, science or reading. The arts foster creativity and provide additional avenues for students to excel.” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Arts education brings balance to students lives and, for many, this will be the only opportunity they have for this type of self expression."

Samantha Underwood, a 17-year-old junior at Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Chicago was chosen as the winner of the statewide poster contest celebrating the 2008 Illinois Arts Education Week. Samantha’s entry is a color pencil drawing that shows her take on modern architecture and is featured on a poster that is distributed to all public and private schools throughout Illinois. The poster contest was sponsored by ISBE in coordination with the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education (IAAE) and the Office of Governor Blagojevich.

“Using colored pencils, I created a drawing inspired by photographs of skyscrapers with intense colors reflecting sunlight off the windows,” Samantha said. “My artwork inspires my learning in all subjects through looking at problems from different perspectives.”

During the ceremony, Samantha was recognized for her work by Illinois State Board member Brenda J. Holmes and presented with a framed poster. Alex Helander, a fifth-grader at Reagan Middle School in Dixon and Halen Fleet, a freshman at Pana Senior High School in Pana were also recognized for second and third place, respectively.

The Illinois Alliance for Arts Education also recognized several people for outstanding service to the field of arts education. The IAAE recognized Arts Education, Dance, Drama, Music and Visual Arts (media arts), and awards were presented in the following categories: Artist, Arts Educator, IAAE Organization, Industry/Business Partners, Public/Community Service, School Administration and the Nadine Saitlin Award.

“With current state testing, we are assessing the left side of the brain – the logical, the linear, the analytical left side of the brain – but we’re also celebrating the right side. The right side looks at the big picture and is responsible for the empathy and symphony,” said Amber Haper, president of IAAE and district superintendent for Leepertown CCSD 175 in Bureau. “We’re honoring those teachers that instill those fundamental processes in our children. The arts are a fundamental learning area.”

Fine Arts is one of the seven learning areas in the Illinois Learning Standards adopted in 1997 by ISBE. Fine Arts are a key component of a student’s education and development. It’s important that students learn the language of the arts, understand how works of art are produced, and understand the role of the arts in civilizations, past and present. The IL Learning Standards define what all students in Illinois public schools should know and be able to do as a result of their elementary and secondary schooling in the content learning areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, social science, physical development and health, fine arts and foreign languages.

The month of March is also celebrated by many national and state professional education associations as a time to focus on students’ participation in the arts. It is a time to recognize the state’s outstanding young artists and focus on careers in the arts available to Illinois students, and enhance public support for this important part of our curriculum. The Illinois Art Education Association and Illinois Music Education Association sponsor Youth Art Month and Music in Our Schools Month in March.

Additional posters can be requested by contacting ISBE’s Curriculum and Instruction Division at 217-557-7323; e-mail:; mail: 100 North First Street, Springfield, IL 62777-0001. The back of the poster contains references to the Illinois Learning Goals and Standards for the Fine Arts as well as suggested resources, activities and celebrations.

A complete list of the 2008 Illinois Arts Education Week’s poster contest winners and honorees is below:

A complete list of the 2008 IAAE honorees is below: