It's National Arts in Education Week, and Miss Illinois is on a mission. Ariel Beverly is touring the state promoting the importance of the arts in schools, and also preparing to share her passion for art classes, music, and the performing arts at the Miss America competition in December.
The native of East Moline, and graduate of Illinois State University, spent last year teaching art at Glenwood High School in Chatham. And she thinks it's "insane" that most schools in the state do not require any classes in the arts to graduate.
"For example, in low socio-economic environments students who are involved in the arts are five times more likely to graduate than their peers who are not. If art has such an impact on student attendance alone, I don't know why it's being cut."
She doesn't think you have to have some sort of inherent talent to take an art class.
"In today's day and age for art, it's about getting your own message out through art. If that means splattering paint all over like Jackson Pollock, then by all means do that. It's about what it means to you and what you're trying to get across with your art and anybody can do that."
After her year as Miss Illinois, Beverly hopes to go back to college for her M.A., and then in some way stay involved in education and the arts.
She graduated from United Township High School in East Moline in 2012, then studied at Black Hawk College before transferring to Illinois State.