Presented by First Lady Michelle Obama
YPT is thrilled to announce that we have received the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the highest honor in the nation for a program like ours.
This award, which was presented to YPT by First Lady Michelle Obama at a private White House ceremony on Wednesday, October 20, recognizes the impact we are having on student learning and helps us to know that what we do truly matters. It also shows our students that important people are listening to what they have to say – and caring about who they are, and who they can be.
YPT was selected for this honor from a pool of more than 400 nominations and 50 finalists.
Accepting the award from Mrs. Obama on behalf of Young Playwrights’ Theater was YPT playwright Mariana Pavón Sánchez, an eleventh grader at Wakefield High School, who was accompanied to the White House by David Andrew Snider, Producing Artistic Director and CEO of YPT.
Mariana was born in Fairfax, but her family moved to Nicaragua when she was an infant. Mariana immigrated to the United States in 2008. In 2009, as a tenth grader, Mariana participated in YPT’s In-School Playwriting Program. She wrote a play titled Mariana’s Wish about a young woman who longs to visit her mother in Nicaragua, but must first convince her father to give his permission. Mariana’s Wish was produced as part of Young Playwrights’ Theater’s New Play Festival in 2010. It’s a passionate, heartfelt play. The audience was moved to tears every night, partially because of the play and partially because of Mariana herself, who spoke so eloquently about her life’s journey and her love of Young Playwrights’ Theater.
Mariana was excited to be invited to speak about YPT’s impact on her life at the award ceremony today, in the East Room of the White House. "My experience with YPT really helped me to improve my English," she told a large audience, which included the First Lady. "Now I know how to express myself better. My advice to other students: don’t be afraid to express yourself through writing, even if it is something small. It’s important."
Please click here to learn more about how to support YPT’s work, so that every student can know that what they have to say truly matters.
To learn more about the award, see the Washington Post, Broadway World, TBD, Yahoo! News, Prince of Petworth, and the Arlington Connection.