Lemont High School sophomore Angel Salazar recently earned the highest honor awarded by the Illinois Council for Exceptional Children. Salazar was one of just eight students from throughout the state to earn a 2019 “Yes I Can!” Award from the ICEC. He received his award at the organization’s fall conference at the Marriott Naperville on November 2.
Salazar was the only student in the state to receive the award in the “Arts” category, which honors individuals for achievement in a particular medium such as music, art, drama, dance or written expression.
Salazar was nominated for the award by his case manager, Lemont High School Special Education teacher Stephenie Joerger. He identified as needing special education services and additional support as a freshman in 2018-19, having previously struggled with confidence issues and managing anxiety.
Salazar joined the marching band for the first time as a first-semester freshman, and developed positive friendships while exploring a love of music. During the spring semester, he auditioned for the school’s talent show and was accepted. His powerful performance of “Waving Through a Window” not only blew the judges and audience members away, but instilled confidence in him to continue taking fine arts classes and pursue his passions.
The “Yes I Can! Awards program celebrates the achievements of children and youth (ages 2-21) with exceptionalities. The purpose of the award is to encourage individuals to seek their highest potential and to increase public awareness of the abilities, aspirations and personal qualities of those with disabilities. Awards are given in six categories: Academic, Arts, School & Community Activities, Self-Advocacy, Technology and Transition.
The Illinois Council for Exceptional Children is a unit of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and is comprised of individuals within the field of special education who are dedicated to advancing the success of children with exceptionalities.
As a state award winner, Salazar’s award nomination will be submitted to the National CEC award review committee.