State Board Honors Art Poster Contest Winner

Contest celebrates annual Illinois Arts Education Week

SPRINGFIELD, IL — This week marks the 34th annual Illinois Arts Education Week, a celebration reflecting and highlighting the importance of fine arts. Students across the state competed to create posters reflective of this year’s theme, “There is Magic in the Arts!” The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) honored first-place winner, Julia Zhang, at its regular business meeting Wednesday.

“Art is an essential part of a well-rounded education and Illinois Arts Education Week reminds us to celebrate fine arts in our schools and communities,” said State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith, Ph.D. “Thank you to all of the participants and congratulations to the winners along with their amazing teachers who work hard every day to encourage these promising talents.”

First place winner Julia Zhang is an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Highland Middle School in Libertyville. Her art instructor is Cindi Sartain in Libertyville District 70.

“I gave this piece more than just the original meaning; I used my style to create a piece that will inspire other students to join the arts and see how amazing the arts really are,” said Julia.

Julia’s winning artwork is featured on a poster promoting Illinois Arts Education Week. Her entry features the four areas of fine art, which are dance, drama, music, and visual arts. A framed poster will be displayed in the Springfield board room.

Second place went to Samara Jaquez, a seventh-grader at Westview Hills Middle School in Willowbrook. Samara’s art instructor is Josh Vance in Maercker School District 60.

Nelly Gil, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Southside Elementary School in Morrison, received third place in ISBE’s poster contest. Nelly’s art instructor is Stasha Hayes in District 6.

This year’s poster contest winners will receive recognition at the 68th annual Illinois Art Education Association (IAEA) Fall Conference, November 3-5, in Normal. 

Illinois Arts Education Week 2016 is sponsored by the Illinois State Board of Education in conjunction with the IAEA and the Governor’s Office. The IAEA is a professional nonprofit organization for art educators, individuals, and groups who support visual arts education. The statewide poster contest celebrating Arts Education Week alternates between elementary/middle and secondary students each year. The contest was open to all students in grades K-8 this year.

Additional posters can be requested by contacting the Illinois State Board of Education’s College and Career Readiness Division at (217) 524-4832, at, or via mail at 100 N. First St., C-215, Springfield, IL 62777-0001.

The back of the poster contains references to the Illinois Learning Standards for fine arts, upcoming art events for 2016, Internet resources and more. Go to to view the winning poster and artwork.