ILLINOIS- Miss Illinois 2019 is beginning a statewide tour Sept. 1 to promote and advocate for the importance of arts in education in Illinois schools, including traditional art classes, music education, and the performing arts.
Ariel Beverly, who grew up in East Moline, is a former high school art teacher who recognizes the important role the arts plays in young peoples’ success. The overarching goal of her reign as Miss Illinois: At least one fine arts teacher in every school and for every high school to require at least one credit in the arts in order to graduate.
“Currently, over 80% of Illinois schools do not require students to take a single course in the arts in order to graduate. That’s insane,” Beverly says. She points to statistics showing that lower socio-economic students who attend schools without any art program are five times less likely to graduate from high school than kids who have access to art education.
Beverly attended Black Hawk College in Moline and then received her degree in art education from Illinois State University. She taught art last school year at Glenwood High School in Chatham. She took time off from teaching because being Miss Illinois is “a full-time job.” During her year as Miss Illinois, she will be solely focused on advocating for arts in education and preparing to present her platform nationally at the Miss America Competition.
As Beverly begins her tenure after being crowned Miss Illinois in June in Marion, she will be meeting with numerous officials, organizations and school students across the state beginning in September.
National Arts in Education Week is September 8 – 14, and Beverly will be involved with the national kick off event in Chicago during that week. The week is a national celebration recognizing the transformative power of the arts in education.
She also will be busy throughout the state, meeting with state and local political and school officials, visiting classrooms and working with students in the arts, as well as attending many of the numerous down state arts and entertainment festivals that occur throughout September.
Beverly says her goal as a high school art teacher in Chatham was to give her classroom an inviting and creative atmosphere. By banning the use of phones, and emphasizing lighting and decorating techniques, Beverly says she made her art classroom a calming, stress-free place to go to develop students’ creative skills.