My name is Mark Anthony Yancey II and I am 16 years old. I currently attend Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology and I am a part of the class of 2023. In 2017, when I was entering the 7th grade, I joined the NJPAC M.A.N.Y program where I learned the glockenspiel, chimes and improved my skills in reading music. I also partook in American Sign Language for a year, Intramural soccer and football, played on my school’s basketball team and was part of NJPAC’s Hip Hop program. I received awards in basketball, academic achievement and music by the time I graduated 8th grade. For this last year, my focus outside of virtual school has been the “Band Together” and the “Wells Fargo Jazz for Teens” programs at NJPAC. I made the honor roll and received award certificates from school through the mail in the midst of this crazy year. Thank you for everything, especially nominating me for this award, it is truly an honor. 

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.