Spotlight on the Arts

Perfecting the transition. Mixing the most amazing color. Hitting the note. Rehearsing it one more time. Getting that homework finished. Hating your alarm clock.

Students who participate in the fine arts work hard. Their commitment is unwavering. Their creativity is amazing. And their accomplishments are outstanding. Time after time, study after study, participation in the Fine Arts has shown to be an accurate predictor of future success. The Arts are Smart!

In order to create a central location for those interested in IESA Fine Art activities, the "Spotlight on the Arts" webpage is being introduced.

This area will be devoted to honoring accomplishments, centralizing fine art information, providing useful links, and reinforcing the inspirational spirit of the fine arts.

Distinguished Service
Year Speech Music
2010 Kathy Litherland, Lincoln JHS Debbie Seelhoefer, Mt. Zion
2011 Cheryl Home, Cerro Gordo MS Stephanie Mencel, LaHarpe
2012 Julie Nelson, Braidwood Reed-Custer Amanda Allen, Monticello MS
2013 Terry Bosley, Armstrong-Ellis Patti Peterson, Wenona MS
2014 Lynn Stehlik, Bradley Central Renee Kiah, Augusta Southeastern
2015 Julie Nelson, Braidwood Reed Custer Robert Fornander, AlWood Middle School
2016 Kathy Brake, Fisher JHS Beth Nuss, Paxton-Buckley-Loda
Steve Betz, Bradley Central
2017 Mary Nelson, Dunlap MS Mike Fogarty, Mt. Zion IS
2018 Rita Gemmer, Morris Saratoga ---
2019 Susan Niendorf, Frankfort Hickory Creek Jennifer Bolton, Normal Parkside
2020 Beth Sadler, Bradley West ---
2021 --- ---
2022 Lisa Lox, Stronghurst West Central & Susie Lafary, Lewistown JHS ---
2023 Nina Andrews, Dunlap Valley ---
Class Act
Year Speech Music
2010 Pam Iverson, Mahomet-Seymour Andrew Patton, Winchester
2011 Liz Martin, Crescent City GS Abigail Houser, Paris Mayo
2012 Julie Kallenbach, Mt. Sterling Brown County MS ---
2013 Mandy O'Neil, Champaign Jefferson Megan Schillinger, Chicago Holy Family
2014 --- Madeline Wood, Monmouth United
2015 Robert Blackburn, Spring Bay Riverview ---
2016 --- ---
2017 Molly Nixon, Normal Epiphany Rachel Aupperle, Fisher JHS
2018 Barb Scott, Newark Lisbon ---
2019 Susan Lipcaman, Mt. Sterling St. Mary's Jonathan Smaga, Annawan
2020 Brandy McQuen, Ottawa Rutland ---
2021 --- ---
2022 --- ---
2023 Natasha Jones, Manteno ---
Ken Bradbury Lifetime Service- Speech
Year Speech
2018 Ken Bradbury
2019 Kathy Litherland
2020 Roger Green
2021 Trish Ballard
2022 Carole Rogers
2023 Lynn Mueller, Watseka


"Music is about communication, creativity, and cooperation, and by studying music in school, students have the opportunity to build on these skills, enrich their lives, and experience the world from a new perspective."

     - Bill Clinton, former US President


  • Achieve significantly higher graduation rates.
  • Improve their overall academic performance.
  • More likely to be recognized for academic achievement.
  • Develop a positive work ethic and pride in their work.
  • Appreciate and understand the world around them.
  • Are more engaged in the learning process.
  • Express themselves creatively.

"I tell my football players that it was the athletic program at Triopia that made me a player, but it was Jr. High speech contest that made me a coach. That's where I learned to express myself."

     - Jay Wessler, former head football coach, Triopia High School and member of state champion IHSA football team

Last year 200 elementary schools in the state of Illinois were given a chance of a lifetime, and all at little cost to their school districts!

No other organization in Illinois offers any type of speech competition for grades 5-8, and a proud tradition of elementary and junior speech and dramatics stretching all the way back to 1934.

Like all the arts, Speech allows students to communicate with and understand others in new ways. Perhaps more than any other activity, Speech also provides training in the very practical aspects of communication so necessary in today's increasingly information-centered world. The ability to communicate effectively will give students the tools to be dynamic leaders in their communities.


"Art helps students develop and showcase their creativity and problem solving skills. These skills are in great demand in the 21st century workplace as companies seek out individuals who can help them prosper by creating innovative products and services".

     - John Rokenbrod, Assistant Principal

Our economy is increasingly based on careers in sectors that require creativity, problem solving and analytical thinking. Participation in the arts is a key component of a student's education and development. Knowledge of the arts will profoundly impact their lives and shape their success in the future.

A well-rounded education that includes the arts improves students' chances of success after graduation, both within and outside of traditional creative industries.

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