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US First Lady Honors 13 Youth Arts Programs

  • Associated Press

First lady Michelle Obama, pictured with Andre Massey of Deep Center Inc., Savannah, Ga., gives a sign of approval to the youth's father in the audience during the 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards at the White House, Nov. 17, 2015.

First lady Michelle Obama, pictured with Andre Massey of Deep Center Inc., Savannah, Ga., gives a sign of approval to the youth's father in the audience during the 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards at the White House, Nov. 17, 2015.

Calling a group of artistic youths the "next generation of fabulous,'' Michelle Obama presented national arts and humanities awards to 12 after-school programs from across the United States and one international program from Honduras.

Honorees included a musical theater program co-created by comedian Rosie O'Donnell that serves low-income students in New York City.

The first lady presented the awards Tuesday to recognize the nation's best youth programs that use arts and humanities to develop skills and increase academic achievement. She honored programs that teach ceramics, dance, music, writing, science and more. Each of the U.S. programs will receive $10,000.

The annual White House ceremony included a live performance from a winning program called A Commitment to Excellence, or ACTE II. The New York group performed a song and dance medley including "I Got Rhythm,'' "Girls Just Want to Have Fun'' and "Empire State of Mind.''

"Wow ... that wasn't singing, that was 'sangin'," Obama quipped. She predicted the group was destined for Broadway.

Obama urged continued funding and support for arts and humanities programs, which she said also teach students problem-solving, teamwork and discipline.

"There are millions of kids like these with talent all over the place, and it's hidden and it's untapped, and that's why these programs are so important,'' Obama said. "We wouldn't know that all this existed without any of these programs, and that would be a shame.''

The 2015 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards are hosted by the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities in partnership with three national cultural agencies.

The 13 programs recognized with National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards during the White House ceremony were:

— A Commitment to Excellence (ACTE II), New York

— Action Arts and Science Program, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

— Art High, Pasadena, California

— CityDance DREAM Program, Washington

— Spy Hop Productions, Salt Lake City

— Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee

— Ogden Museum of Southern Art Inc., New Orleans

— VSA Indiana Inc., Indianapolis

— The Center for Urban Pedagogy Inc., Brooklyn, New York

— Deep Center Inc., Savannah, Georgia

— The Telling Room, Portland, Maine

— Caldera, Portland, Oregon

— Organization for Youth Empowerment, El Progreso, Honduras

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