Published : Tuesday, November 17, 2015 | 1:42 PM
Rose City High School student and aspiring photographer Dalon Poole, 17, will be at the White House on Nov. 17 to accept an award from First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of the Armory Center for the Arts’ “Art High” program. The Armory’s Art High Program has won the 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation’s highest honor for these programs. Dalon was selected to travel to Washington, D.C., by Armory Center executives because of his demonstrated talent and dedication.
“Having the chance to represent Pasadena and accept this award from the First Lady in the White House is incredible. I’ll never forget this experience,” said Dalon Poole. “I want to be a photographer someday. The Armory has given me the opportunity to make that happen.”
Like most teens, Dalon took pictures with only the camera on his phone. That is, until two years ago when he started taking free Armory-sponsored photography classes at Pasadena’s La Pintoresca Teen Education Center. There, he learned how to operate a real camera for the first time and was mentored by Armory Teaching Artist Joe Sanchez. He also began taking free graphic design classes, also offered by the Armory at La Pintoresca.
Dalon serves on the Student Leadership Board at Rose City High School, where he is described by teachers and staff as an artist, leader, an articulate communicator, and a dedicated student with excellent attendance. He has taken graphics design courses at Rose City and serves as the school’s publicity chair designing posters and logos to promote the school.
“PUSD congratulates Dalon and the Armory for this honor,” said Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent (PUSD) Brian McDonald, Ed.D. “Dalon demonstrates the value of arts education in schools and in the community, and the power of art to engage young people in areas that can lead to fulfilling careers. PUSD is proud to partner with the Armory for arts education initiatives for our students.”
By 2015, Dalon won the Pasadena Art Council’s Young Artist Award and used part of the $1,000 award to buy his first real camera, which he used as a paid summer intern to take photos for the City of Pasadena’s Recreation and Parks Department. Today, Dalon is a paid Armory Teen Apprentice, an Art High initiative that identifies and trains youth mentors to assist Armory Teaching Artists at parks and community centers throughout the region.
“We hope this award will draw attention to the documented fact that programs like ours are essential investments not just in the lives of our young people, but in our community as well,” said Scott Ward, Armory Executive Director. “We’re incredibly proud of this achievement and of the young people, volunteers, supporters, board and staff who made it possible.”
The award recognizes the country’s best creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to increase academic achievement, graduation rates, and college enrollment. The awardees — chosen from a pool of more than 350 nominations and 50 finalists — were also recognized for improving literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.
First presented in 1998, the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award is the signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). The awards are presented annually in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).
Since 2006, the Armory’s Art High program has made after-school art classes and mentorship opportunities readily accessible to teens at parks and community centers throughout the region. Art High brings teens together that share a common interest in the arts and provides over 1,000 hours of free fine arts and media arts classes to over 700 teens each year, including painting, drawing, silk screening, photography, filmmaking, graphic design, animation and more.
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