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Michael Yanette, Program Director for CCE; Mellie Justad;

Michael Yanette, Program Director for CCE; Mellie Justad;
 Ralph Hamilton Award winner; Tom Pilecki,
Executive Director of CCE
Photo by:  Lucien Capehart Photography







WEST PALM BEACH – From clay and mosaics to acting and singing, Center for Creative Education (CCE) artists transformed classrooms into unique learning experiences for many local students during the 2007 – 2008 school year.  Artists, board members, staff and friends of CCE gathered recently at "Portiuncula," the home of Tom Pilecki, Executive Director of CCE, to honor the artists at the annual Artists Awards Party – recognizing this year’s most outstanding projects in after- and in-school programming.  


"The Artists Awards Party is a special evening to celebrate the talented artists who work hard all year with students from area schools," Pilecki began.  "Through our CADRE and LEAP programs, our artists make a huge impact on the children by creating memorable learning experiences either in the classroom or during the after school programs.  I am always so amazed with the unique projects created encompassing all different art forms."


CCE is a not-for-profit educational organization that supports partnerships among schools, arts and cultural organizations, artists, community-based organizations, and human service providers in order to integrate the arts into academic curriculum and out-of-school activities in Palm Beach County.  Since its inception in 1994, more than 70,000 students have benefited from CCE, inspiring their love of learning through the arts.  CCE currently has more than 40 artists on their roster.  


CADRE is an arts and cultural program offered through a partnership with Prime Time of Palm Beach County that brings programs in all arts areas to afterschool providers.  Project LEAP provides artist-classroom teacher collaborations that improve student learning and teaching practices by integrating arts and academics into the classroom setting.  CADRE and LEAP artists were presented with the Ralph Hamilton Award, the most distinguished award at CCE.  The award is named for the former director of development at the MacArthur Foundation and
co-founder of CCE.


This year’s Ralph Hamilton Award winner for LEAP programming was Ronni Gerstel for her “The Ellis Island Effect: An Immigration Living Museum” with Mrs. Manchester’s third grade class at Grassy Waters Elementary in West Palm Beach.  John Carlile and Rae Randall were runners-up with their “The Scientific Method” project created with Melinda Graat’s fifth grade class at South Olive Elementary in West Palm Beach.  Honorable mention went to Jean Heart Howard for “The Life Cycle of a Butterfly” with 14 students from Martha Kratz and Rachel Kravitt’s classroom at Potentials North in Riviera Beach and Potentials South in Boca Raton.


The CADRE Hamilton Award winning project was “Super-Saturating the Rainforest” with artist Mellie Justad and students at Forest Park Elementary in Boynton Beach.  Runners-up were Anne Sheehy Moritz, Steve Brouse, Ronni Gerstel, Tracey Ross of Peterson, Ramona Jenkins and Sonja Kelly for the “Serendipity Garden” they created with students at Hidden Oaks Elementary in Lake Worth.


To date, the 12-year-old CCE has operated as an outreach programming supplement to public school curricula by bringing arts teaching and cultural collaborations to public schools in disadvantaged communities to transform a child's educational experience.  CCE recently purchased the former skating rink on 24th Street in West Palm Beach and is raising $10 million to create a community center that will feature a 300-seat black box theatre, dance studio, art galleries and classrooms.


For more information on The Center for Creative Education,
 please call (561) 805-9927, or visit





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