As you may have read in the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Theater Center’s Project Discovery recently received siginificant recognition. On November 22, Rachel Hull, Director of Education and Community Enrichment and Emily Sanchez, a senior at participating W.H. Adamson High School, went to the White House to receive the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award!
This award, presented by First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, recognized the top twelve school arts and humanities programs in the United States. First Lady Michelle Obama opened the ceremony by telling the youth award recipients how proud she was of them, and how proud they should be of themselves. To the educators she said, “You see first-hand that giving a child the chance to fill a canvas, or to perfect a harmony, or to shine on stage—that can stoke the flames of a lifelong passion. And, it can teach valuable skills; skills like hard work, and persistence... It can open up possibilities that young people might not realize for themselves.”
Mrs. Obama’s words rang true to attendee Emily Sanchez, who spoke eloquently with the members of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Emily talked about how coming to Project Discovery made her want more. “I want to be like the young actors I saw that first day,” she says. “They were so natural and confident. They inspired me. I wanted to read and write better… Now I want to go to college… and study something that will help me understand people better and make connections.” Like so many of our students, Project Discovery has created a bridge for Emily.
Though this award only confirms what Dallas Theater Center and participating schools throughout North Texas already know—that Project Discovery is essential to the social and cultural development of our young people—the program continues to struggle to be fully funded. With support from the community, DTC has taken on the challenge of closing the funding gap so that this award-winning program will continue at no cost to the student.
The experience of walking the hallowed halls of the White House was amazing, but it paled in comparison to the moment Project Discovery was recognized by Mrs. Obama. Dallas Theater Center is beyond humbled by the outpouring of excitement, congratulations and shared joy that has come from past and current students, classroom teachers, actors and artists. This tremendous recognition will be celebrated in January with a party for participants, artists and supporters, and the ripples of the award will continue to be felt for years to come, just as Project Discovery continues to positively impact students throughout North Texas.
Top: First Lady Michelle Obama with Project Discovery participant Emily Sanchez and Rachel Hull, DTC’s Director of Education and Community Enrichment, at the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award presentation ceremony. Middle: Emily enjoying her time in D.C. Bottom: Making new friends at the White House.