WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange Liberty Middle School art teacher Kristy Lopez was recently awarded the Claire Flanagan Memorial Award, the top national award for New Jersey's Youth Art Month. (Flanagan founded Youth Art Month more than 50 years ago.)

Lopez received the award along with Youth Art Month co-chair Karen Mannino, an art teacher at George Washington Elementary School in Hillside.

"I am incredibly grateful for winning this award with Karen Mannino," said Lopez. "We really care about and believe in this program...We've had the pleasure of meeting so many students and their families at our receptions, giving these artists their moment in the spotlight and hopefully a glimmer of inspiration to pursue the arts." 

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Lopez and Mannino documented their Youth Art Month activities, noting observances, funding, participation, community support, special materials and proclamations. Visit their Blogspot here

Youth Art Month is a program observed nationally in March to advocate for art education and the visual arts in schools.

State chairpersons and their state art education associations are eligible for national recognition and financial awards for their participation in Youth Art Month and their impact on K-12 visual art education. Outstanding Youth Art Month programs are recognized at NAEA based on each state’s digital presentation documenting the state’s Youth Art Month activities.

"Nationally, more and more states are getting involved and displaying what they are doing with their programs online, so the ability to stand out amongst all the competition is very special,” said Lopez. “We want to thank the Council for Art Education for recognizing all our efforts, and the efforts of our incredible team of county chairs, without whom none of this would be possible.”

Lopez and Mannino will be recognized during the 2020 National Art Education Association (NAEA) Convention to be held from March 26 to March 28 in Minneapolis, Minn.  

The West Orange Board of Education recognized Lopez for her accomplishment at the Jan. 27 meeting.