Hamilton County’s Ciera Smith Named IHSA Nominee For NFHS Heart of the Arts Award

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Hamilton County’s Ciera Smith Named IHSA Nominee For NFHS Heart of the Arts Award

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The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) is proud to announce its nominee for the 2023-24 National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Heart of the Arts Award is Hamilton County High School senior Ciera Smith.

The Heart of the Arts Award was developed to recognize teams or individuals associated with high school activity programs who have overcome incredible adversity or gone above and beyond their peers in actions or service.

“We are proud to have Ciera Smith represent the IHSA and Illinois as our NFHS Heart of the Arts Award nominee,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “I believe she exemplifies this honor because participation in high school fine arts programs have clearly been pivotal in helping her excel as a student and overcome adversity in her personal life.”

Ciera has used her love for the arts to help overcome a difficult upbringing that has included homelessness.

“Each arts program I have participated in has contributed to my personal growth, including providing important friendships and mentors,” said Ciera. “These activities have also helped me become more confident in myself as I have faced adversity.”

She has taken advantage of her full high school experience by finding her home away from home within the arts programs at Hamilton County High School, where she participates in choir, band, color guard, theater, and scholastic bowl.

“Ciera is fiercely loyal to all of her arts groups and is the first to volunteer for any project that we have in the music or theater department,” said Hamilton County Music Director Lynette Staley. “She volunteered to play clarinet in the school band during the second semester of 2024, even though she is not enrolled in the class."


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