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LOUISVILLE – A Virginia politician once told his constituents that creativity will be the currency of the 21st century.

Louisville Public Schools showed Nov. 20 that the district is rich in artistic talent during a special awards event.

Louisville students, staff and community members gathered in the elementary gym to celebrate a major school accomplishment. Members of the Nebraskans for the Arts organization presented the district with the NebraskARTS Award. Louisville and Norfolk were the only two Nebraska school districts to be selected for the 2018 honor.

Representatives of the Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska State Board of Education, Nebraskans for the Arts and Nebraska Legislature all congratulated Louisville for the award. Nebraska Arts Council Executive Director Suzanne Wise praised the district for its work with all types of arts education.

“Each nominee has made notable and important contributions to the arts in the state,” Wise said. “Louisville truly represents the best of the best of our fine arts community in Nebraska.”

Nebraska State Board of Education member Patsy Koch Johns told the audience she was thrilled to learn about Louisville’s dedication to the arts. She said that artistic energy came both from talented student performers and staff members who helped them realize their potential. She asked students to express their appreciation to teachers, coaches and administrators for their efforts.

“Before you leave here tonight, I want you to go find someone in the school who helped you, and I want you to tell them ‘thank you’ for investing their time and energy in you,” Koch Johns said. “You are lucky, lucky students because you have a lot of people who care about you.”

Wise agreed with that sentiment.

“The nominating committee was impressed by the support the school provides students,” Wise said. “Staff members collaborate with each other so students can be part of a variety of activities. Those partnerships between parents, community members and school employees are very important.”

Nebraskans for the Arts sponsors the NebraskARTS Award each year. The organization honors two school districts that have supported and encouraged achievement across a wide spectrum of arts endeavors. These include music, theater, speech, drama, dance, cheer and other media and visual arts.

Previous recipients have included Omaha Westside High School, York Public Schools, Hyannis Area Schools, Lincoln High School, Kearney High School, Ravenna Public Schools, Schuyler Community Schools and Seward Public Schools.

Nominations can only be made by members of the Nebraskans for the Arts organization. The group then enlists a committee of arts educators from across the state to evaluate each potential recipient. They consider artistic achievements by individuals and groups from each school at local, district and statewide levels. They also look at community involvement in district activities, partnerships between different groups within the school and recommendations from nominators.

Louisville officials learned earlier this fall that the Lions had been selected for the honor. They immediately began planning a celebration that would represent all fine arts activities within the district.

School officials arranged a lineup of speakers that included Wise, Koch Johns, State Senator Robert Clements and Nebraskans for the Arts Executive Director Doug Zbylut. Louisville Junior/Senior High School Principal Brett Schwartz, Louisville Activities Director Rob Geise and Louisville Board of Education member Kara Habrock also delivered speeches at the event. Louisville teacher and speech coach Nick Krause served as master of ceremonies.

Geise and Schwartz both emphasized the importance of teamwork and camaraderie across the district. They said the goal is to make sure both current and former students realize they are valuable members of the Louisville school household.

“The idea of ‘one school, one team’ has become a reality here at Louisville Public Schools,” Geise said. “All wear purple and gold, and all represent our school and community to the very highest standard.”

“We are one big family,” Schwartz said. “When students leave here I like to remind them that they are Lions for life.”

The evening featured performances from many fine arts groups. The LHS choir and band both delivered musical numbers for the audience, and members of the Louisville cheer and dance teams both appeared on stage. Students in this year’s one-act play entertained the crowd with a scene from their production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and the band, dance team and cheerleaders ended the night with the school fight song.

LHS alumni Ellie Geise, Claire Habrock, Kathryn Edwards and Joel White highlighted Louisville’s speech program with multiple presentations. All four graduates earned state-level awards during their Louisville careers.

Koch Johns told the audience she was even more impressed with the district after watching each of the performances. She said members of the nominating committee had made the correct choice when they selected Louisville for the NebraskARTS Award.

“You are so talented and blessed in so many areas,” Koch Johns said. “You have a lot to be proud of here at Louisville.”

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