On November 10, 2014 at an official White House ceremony, First Lady Michelle Obama awarded CPS Shakespeare! the prestigious National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the nation's highest honor for after-school creative youth development initiatives from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Program co-founders Marilyn J. Halperin, Director of Education and the Ray and Judy McCaskey Education Chair, and director Kirsten Kelly attended the East Room ceremony on behalf of the Theater. Joining them was Prosser Career Academy junior Jennifer Guadalupe Gonzalez, a two-year alumna of CPS Shakespeare!, who was selected as the student representative to address the gathered elected, civic and cultural leaders and speak about the impact of the program on her personal and academic development.
Each year, this transformational program invites CPS high school students and their teachers from across the city into our rehearsal room to create a completely original Shakespeare production. Through a five-week intensive rehearsal process under the guidance of a full team of professional CST artists, this intergenerational ensemble works together to prepare a fully designed production, culminating in two performances on Chicago Shakespeare’s mainstage in the Courtyard Theater. CPS Shakespeare! develops students’ literacy skills as it builds confidence, empowering our city’s teens to approach life’s challenges with bravery and self-assurance.
"This experience has changed my life. Period."
–Student at Gage Park High School (CPS)
"I know now that I can teach the most difficult text, to any student, because that is what we do here."
–Teacher, Prosser Career Academy (CPS)
Watch & Listen
Video: NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams features CPS Shakespeare
Video: Chicago Shakespeare Theater's Education Programs
MORE TO EXPLORE
"The program changes the lives of our young people. I have incorporated a great deal of our work into my classroom."
Taking on the greatest poet in the English language and making his words their own, students and teachers discover their own voices.