My name is Quinn Leak, and I’m a sophomore at Burlington Township High School, taking honors level coursework and consistently earning High Honor Roll. I’ve danced since I was 7 years old, with training in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and musical theater dance.

But theater is my true love. I was accepted into the iTheatrics Summer Theater Academy in NYC in 2019 and 2020. In 2019 I performed in my high school’s production of The Skin of Our Teeth by Tennesee Williams. I’ve been a member of Lyceum Hall’s Musical Theater Competition Troupe since 2019, performing scenes from The Little Mermaid, Crazy for You, and a virtual production of The Audition by Don Ziolis.

In the summer of 2020, I was fortunate enough to attend the NJPAC Virtual Summer Arts Camp, participating in acting, writing, and vocal classes. In November 2020, I was inducted into my school’s International Thespian Society troupe. I’m currently in rehearsal for productions with both Lyceum and the Thespian Society troupe.  Like many of us, I am anxious for the return of live theater.  But I am very grateful for the virtual opportunities I’ve been able to both watch and participate in during the pandemic.

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.