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Peoria Unified receives Kennedy Center, NSBA Award


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  • Danielle Airey/Peoria Unified School District

Peoria NSBA Award HP2

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the Peoria Unified School District’s Governing Board as the recipient of the 26th annual Kennedy Center Alliance for the Arts Education Network (KCAAEN) and National School Boards Association (NSBA) Award.

The award, which includes a $10,000 prize, was presented Monday at the National School Boards Association’s Annual Conference in New Orleans. Since 1989, this prestigious national award has recognized individual school boards for their outstanding support of arts education. 

Peoria Unified receives Kennedy Center, NSBA Award PeoriaNSBA-AwardHP

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the Peoria Unified School District’s Governing Board as the recipient of the 26th annual Kennedy Center Alliance for the Arts Education Network and National School Boards Association Award. Photo courtesy Peoria Unified School District

Each year, a national review panel selects the first place school district from a pool of nominees selected by State Alliances for Arts Education and State School Boards Associations. School districts selected for this national honor must demonstrate support for all four core disciplines in arts education programs: visual arts, music, theater and dance. Instruction and programming must be available for all students throughout the district.

Peoria Unified was chosen from nominees around the country for the district’s support of high-quality arts education and clear, demonstrated commitment to teaching and learning through the arts. The Governing Board actively promoted the district’s arts programs and established arts integration in Title 1 schools and continued to offer diverse and practical arts courses for the district’s students at every grade level despite budget cuts.

The Board also sought out partnerships with local, state and national arts organizations to increase arts opportunities for students. The Governing Board’s messaging and focus on the education of the whole child testify to the ongoing goal of arts education for all students.

The award, which was received by Superintendent Dr. Denton Santarelli, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Heather Cruz and Governing Board Members Hal Borhauer, Matt Bullock, James Kistner and Kathy Knecht, will be used to continue funding for effective arts education programs.

The Peoria Unified School District serves more than 36,000 students in 32 elementary schools, seven high schools and one non-traditional high school and was the first district in the state to receive the prestigious AdvancED Accreditation. With ongoing open enrollment and unique educational opportunities, the district boasts a 94 percent high school graduation rate.

Peoria Unified prides itself on excelling schools, award-winning teachers, high AIMS test scores, specialized signature programs and championship sports programs.