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Congratulations to the Recipients of the 36th Annual Governor’s Awards in Arts Education


Posted On June 9, 2016

TRENTON— 6/8/16 – On May 26, 2016 the Patriot’s Theatre at the War Memorial in Trenton was the place to be for inspirational speeches and remarkable performances. The New Jersey Arts Education Partnership (NJAEP) along with the New Jersey Department of Education, Art Pride New Jersey Foundation, the Department of State and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts hosted the 36th Annual Governor’s Awards in Arts Education. This event is recognized nationwide as the states highest honor in arts education. Honoring excellence, promoting awareness of and appreciation for the arts, and by recognizing the creativity, talent and leadership of the award winners.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick was recognized with the Lifetime Contribution Award and in accepting the award spoke about his admiration for artists and the driving force behind his arts education policies. A self-proclaimed “born again Artist” Bramnick spoke of his wife and children and informed the crowd, if you want a life that’s not boring “marry an artist”. With his speech the event was off to a fabulous start, and the excitement continued with performances by some of the best in the state.

James Morris, Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy started us off with a spellbinding performance on the piano.  Brandon Lyons from Hoboken High School gave a passionate monologue from A Raisin in the Sun. Ricky Persaud, Jr., Shepard High School and Ryan Hernandez, Governor Livingston High School took us on a journey to a jazz club with their toe tapping renditions of “Fly Me to the Moon” and “The Girl from Ipanema”.

Rounding out the evening of amazing performances was a solo modern dance performance by Danielle D’Abundo, Charter Tech High School for the Performing Arts and a timely monologue about a victim of the bombing of Hiroshima that brought tears to our eyes by Kimberly Lee of Summit High School. Maressa Park, of Mary Help of Christians Academy recited her own poem “Butterfly Cage” reminding us that all our lives are intertwined and to set ourselves free.

Concluding this year’s event was a surprising collaborative dance performance by Amanda Edore, Morris County Vocational School District, Candance Eason, The Wardlaw- Hartridge School, Julia Foti and Joy Giuffre, Passaic County Technical Institute, and Lianna Shimoun, Ridge High School who put their individual performances together only moments before the show began and captivated the crowd.

Mark Biedron, President of the State Board of Education, Chair of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Elizabeth Mattson and Kristin Wenger, Director of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership had the honor of presenting the awards to over 115 student and leaders in arts education from across the state.

Past recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, Wendy Liscow of the Geraldine R Dodge Foundation stated, “So to all the past, present and FUTURE Arts Education awardees — revel in the limelight.  You represent the creative potential and sustainability of our state. Enjoy this recognition and spread the word about the power of the arts to transform individuals, schools, and communities.”

The Governor’s Awards in Arts Education success comes from the collaboration of the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership, the New Jersey Department of Education, Art Pride New Jersey Foundation, the Department of State and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Additional support is provided by: Art Educators of New Jersey, New Jersey Music Educators Association, Dance NJ, ACT-SO Program New Jersey, Arts Administrators of New Jersey, New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, New Jersey Speech and Debate League, New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC); Writers Theatre of New Jersey; Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey; VSA New Jersey and Young Audiences New Jersey & Eastern Pennsylvania. The cooperating organizations, award sponsors and individual members of the planning council dedicate their time to make sure that excellence in the arts is rewarded, and work tirelessly throughout the year to plan this special event. The Governor’s Awards in Arts Education ceremony are a major collaborative effort of the arts, education and state government.

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