Italy is currently a junior at the Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy. She finds great delight in dissecting poems and analyzing their objectives. Analyzing the objectives, and desires behind each word makes each piece very personal and engaging for her. Although they aren’t Italy’s poems within ownership, each one is very personal to her and in a way feels like a prized possession. Through her participation in Poetry Out Loud, Italy realized her skill in poetry. It helped her self-reflect and find an appreciation and love for poetry that wasn’t just reciting it, but also writing it. Italy is supported by her family, especially her grandmother, aunt, cousin, and brother. She is inspired by artists like Maya Angelou and is passionate about all forms of art that allow her to express herself and be vulnerable behind words or a character.

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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.