Senior Gracie Beardsley from Summit High School is so honored to receive this award. Throughout her time in high school, Gracie has competed on the Speech and Debate team every year and has received numerous awards in various events. Also, she has received the NJ State Seal of Biliteracy in Spanish, as well as received Magna Cum Laude. In addition, she is a part of her school’s theatre program and serves as the drama club president, as well as currently plays the role of Katherine Plumber in Summit’s production of Newsies. She has been seen on multiple television shows including Blue Bloods on CBS and The Blacklist on NBC and played the role of Annie Who in the Broadway National Tour of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Finally, Gracie will attend TCU- Texas Christian University in the fall with a double major in Strategic Communications and Theatre. She hopes to pursue film and television after college because she loves using her voice to create change in the world. Gracie would like to thank her speech and debate coach, mentor, and friend, Anne Poyner, for allowing her to grow as a performer and competitor these last four years.

The Governor’s Awards in Arts Education began in 1980 to promote awareness and appreciation of the arts, recognizing the creativity, talent and leadership of the award winners. Each year, awards are presented to approximately 20 educators and 80 students. National and statewide organizations select the students for their exemplary work in creative writing, speech, dance, music, theatre and visual arts and the leaders for their exceptional commitment and contribution to arts education. The program also recognizes arts educators and arts education advocates, whose leadership has helped nurture the development of students in the arts across the state.

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The Governor’s Awards event is a partnership of the Arts Ed NJ, the 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: the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics; Art Educators of New Jersey; Art Administrators of New Jersey; Dance New Jersey; New Jersey Council of Teachers of English; New Jersey Speech and Debate League; New Jersey Music Educators Association; New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Writer's Theatre of New Jersey; Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey; New Jersey Thespians and Young Audiences of New Jersey and 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.