For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Students honored during the 30th annual Illinois Arts Education Week

Poster contest winners recognized at Governor’s Mansion in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Board of Education honored student winners of the statewide arts education poster contest today at the Governor’s Mansion, a highlight of the 30th annual Illinois Arts Education Week that runs March 12th  through the 16th and celebrates the importance of the fine arts. Students across the state competed to create posters reflective of this year’s theme, “Be Art Smart!”

“Art education enhances brain development and thinking skills,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Whether students are learning to play an instrument, act on stage or paint with watercolors, they’re accessing their creative talents while increasing new skills and confidence. We congratulate these winners as well as their teachers and parents for celebrating the arts.”

The statewide poster contest celebrating Arts Education Week alternates between elementary and secondary students each year. The contest was only open to students in grades 1-8 this year. State Board Member Melinda LaBarre welcomed students and helped distribute awards at the ceremony.

Reese Dannenfeldt, a fifth grader at Copeland Manor Elementary School in Libertyville School District 70, was chosen as the winner of the 2012 statewide poster contest. Reese’s art work features a child painting on an easel with musical notes, dancers and stage in the background. Reese’s art instructor, Cindi Sartain and principal Erik Youngman, joined her as part of Thursday’s  celebration.

“My art is unique and different than other people’s art,” Reese said in her artist statement. “I can feel and see what I draw before I draw it. Drawing is my life.”

“We’re excited to see so many students and educators celebrate the arts,” said Becky Blaine, IAAE President and retired art teacher.  “These young people know intuitively what research has told us over and over again – that students learn more and perform at higher academic levels when involved in a variety of arts experiences.”

Illinois Arts Education Week 2012 is sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education in conjunction with the Illinois Alliance for Arts Education and the Governor’s Office. The IAAE is a member of the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network, receiving support, award recognition programs and professional development opportunities. ISBE is also a partner with the Illinois Arts Council. National, state and local activities are held throughout March to celebrate art education.

In addition to honoring students, the 2012 Award ceremony recognized individuals, community organizations and businesses that have contributed to the arts and art education.

IAAE/ISBE Poster Contest Awards:


Reese Dannenfeldt, fifth grader
Cindi Sartain, Art Teacher
Copeland Manor Elementary School,
Libertyville School District 70

Second Place

Madison Meyer, fourth grader
Margaret Blakeslee, Art Teacher
Washington Elementary School
Sterling CUSD 5

Third Place

Daniel Diaz, 8th grade
Deyana Matt, Art Teacher
Westfield Middle School, Bloomingdale SD 13

Honorable Mention

Alanna Buttitta, 7th grade
Westfield Middle School, Bloomingdale SD 13
Ellen Jiang, 8th grader
Westview Hills Middle School, Maercker No. 60
Eli McEwan, 4th grader
Rockland School, School District 70
Giovanny A. Rodriguez, 6th grader
Westchester Middle School, District 92 ½

Additional posters can be requested by contacting the Illinois State Board of Education’s Innovation and Improvement division at (217) 524-4832;; or via mail at 100 N. First St., N-242, Springfield, IL 62777-0001.

The back of the poster contains references to the Illinois Learning Goals and Standards for the Fine Arts, upcoming art events for 2012, Internet resources and more. To view the winning posters online, please visit or What’s New on the I & I home page at: