First Lady Michelle Obama honors Chicago Shakespeare Theater (CST) with the 2014 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award at a White House ceremony on Nov. 10. Marilyn Halperin (at right), CST Director of Education and the Ray and Judy McCaskey Education Chair, and current program participant Jennifer Guadalupe Gonzalez (center) accepted the award on behalf of CPS Shakespeare!, CST’s arts-in-education partnership with Chicago Public Schools. Photo by Steven E. Purcell

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Twenty-year Evanston resident Marilyn Halperin founded the CPS Shakespeare! program nine years ago in her position as Chicago Shakespeare’s Director of Education, and less than 20 days ago she accepted an award from First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on behalf of the program.

The signature program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the award recognizes the country’s best after-school creative youth development programs for using engagement in the arts and the humanities to develop skills and increase academic achievement, graduation rates and college enrollment.

The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities honored CPS Shakespeare! with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, recognizing Halperin’s award-winning program as a national model for immersive arts-
in-education programming.

Developed by Ms. Halperin and stage and film director Kirsten Kelly, CPS Shakespeare! empowers an intergenerational ensemble of CPS students and teachers – guided and supported by a full team of CST theater professionals – to master Shakespeare’s difficult text and create a fully produced play on Chicago Shakespeare’s stage.