Miss Illinois 2019 is beginning a statewide tour Sept. 1 to promote and advocate for the importance of arts in education in Illinois schools, including traditional art classes, music education, and the performing arts.

Ariel Beverly, who grew up in East Moline, is a former high school art teacher who recognizes the important role the arts plays in young peoples’ success. The overarching goal of her reign as Miss Illinois: At least one fine arts teacher in every school and for every high school to require at least one credit in the arts in order to graduate.

“Currently, over 80% of Illinois schools do not require students to take a single course in the arts in order to graduate. That’s insane,” Beverly says. She points to statistics showing that lower socio-economic students who attend schools without any art program are five times less likely to graduate from high school than kids who have access to art education.

Beverly attended Black Hawk College in Moline and then received her degree in art education from Illinois State University. She taught art last school year at Glenwood High School in Chatham. She took time off from teaching because being Miss Illinois is “a full-time job.” During her year as Miss Illinois, she will be solely focused on advocating for arts in education and preparing to present her platform nationally at the Miss America Competition.

As Beverly begins her tenure after being crowned Miss Illinois in June in Marion, she will be meeting with numerous officials, organizations and school students across the state beginning in September.

National Arts in Education Week is September 8 – 14, and Beverly will be involved with the National kick off event in Chicago during that week. The week is a national celebration recognizing the transformative power of the arts in education.

She also will be busy throughout the state, meeting with state and local political and school officials, visiting classrooms and working with students in the arts, as well as attending many of the numerous down state arts and entertainment festivals that occur throughout September.

Beverly says her goal as a high school art teacher in Chatham was to give her classroom an inviting and creative atmosphere. By banning the use of phones, and emphasizing lighting and decorating techniques, Beverly says she made her art classroom a calming, stress-free place to go to develop students’ creative skills.

“The students really appreciated that,” she says, also pointing to studies that show that 72% of business leaders say that creativity is the number one skill they are seeking when hiring. “Art in schools is not just kids drawing pictures with crayons. It’s not just technical ability. It’s encouraging individuality, spatial skills and creativity.”

Also on Beverly’s agenda for her reign as Miss Illinois is a statewide #IncludetheArts Postcard Project to involve Illinois students in recognizing the value of art education, and the students in turn helping government leaders remain committed to that value.

Thousands of postcards with a blank matte finish on one side are being distributed to state schools, and students will be able to create their own masterpieces on the cards. The cards will then be collected and presented to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, hopefully leading to a “good discussion” on the importance of art education, Beverly says. The cards also are available online to be printed out and finished.

For her birthday on Sept. 15, Beverly plans to award $1,000 for art education supplies to a state classroom from which a student or students created exceptional postcards. Her goal is to continue to generate thousands of postcards in the future, making the classroom art award an annual event.

As if Beverly won’t be busy enough with her ambitious art-education platform, she also must start preparing for the Miss America 2020 Competition, which will be held on Dec. 19 and televised live on NBC.

Beverly, who was Miss East Central when she was crowned Miss Illinois against 24 other young women from the state, had numerous levels of talent and competition to prepare for. Her talent is singing, and she also participated in a 10-minute “high intensity interview” with the judges as well answering an on-stage question and preparing her initiative for having a positive impact on the state.

All of that will be intensified when Beverly becomes one of 51 young women participating in Miss America 2.0 for the 2020 title. The candidates compete for scholarships to be used to continue their efforts toward community service and education. The show will highlight a diverse group of young women, both students and professionals who embody the message of female strength, independence and empowerment through their efforts in the areas of scholarships, talents and social impacts.

Over the last two years, the Miss America Organization and its state competitions have awarded nearly $6 million in scholarships. Already Beverly has seen the benefit of the scholarship money awarded as Miss Illinois.

“It’s life-changing. The money can be used for education or to pay off student loans. I will barely have any student debt now,” she says, noting that the Miss Illinois and Miss America organizations are moving farther away from a “pageant concept to become the largest provider of scholarships to women. There are no points awarded for beauty,” she says. “The contest has become about preparing great women for the world and preparing the world for great women!”

Further information about Beverly and her arts in education platform can be found at, or Follow her on Facebook (@MissAmericaIL), Twitter (@MissAmericaIL), and Instagram (@MissAmericaIL)


Art Education Navigator Facts & Figures by Americans for the Arts

Students who are involved in the arts are:

4 times more likely to participate in math and science fairs

3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance

4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement

3 times more likely to be elected to class office

Low socioeconomic status (SES) students with a high participation in the arts have a dropout rate of 4% but their peers with a low participation in the arts have a dropout rate of 22%.

72% of business leaders say that creativity is the #1 skill they are seeking when hiring.

In the last study done, African-American and Hispanic students had less than half the access to arts education then their white peers

ARTS AT THE CORE: EVERY SCHOOL, EVERY STUDENT by The Illinois Arts Education Initiative

Almost 20% of Illinois Principals surveyed report having no arts program in their school (visual arts, theater, music, or dance).

28% of Superintendents report that none of the 4 art disciplines were considered part of the core curriculum for their school district.

1 in 10 Illinois School Districts have no certified Arts teachers in any arts discipline anywhere in the district.

23% of schools employ no arts specialist.

11% of school districts in Illinois require no arts instruction in any grade.

80% of High School Principals report that students in their school are not required to take a single course in the arts in order to graduate.

In the last 5 years less than 30% of schools have increased their budget for the arts. The other 70+% have not changed, or even worse lowered their

Arts budget.


Local Title: Miss East Central

Hometown: East Moline (currently resides in Springfield)

Education: Black Hawk College, Illinois State University

Major: Art Education

Social Advocacy: Arts in Education

More than a Pretty Face

She’s a skydiver! Ariel became a member of the United State Parachute Association when she was four days old! That’s because her father was a member of the elite Golden Knights Parachute team. She is currently 14 solo jumps into getting her class A skydiving license. One of her bucket list goals is to jump into all the 370+ “Drop Zones” in the United States.

In addition to skydiving she enjoys all extreme sports including rock climbing and scuba diving.

Entrepreneurship: Her love of the arts started early, when she created bookmarks, locker magnets and decorated shoes in middle school. Ariel turned her craft into a “side hustle” by opening an online ETSY store, becoming an entrepreneur with art and earning enough to buy her first

car and to pay for her first year of college.

Her painting design of the Winnie the Pooh cast on shoes was extremely popular, as were her Miss America crown-decorated Toms. The proceeds from those sales brought art supplies to three local school districts.

Stomping out hunger: From her freshman year on through high school, Ariel led her school’s hunger drive in collecting food for the less privileged. Before she was able to drive, Ariel pulled her wagon through her neighborhood, talking to people and collecting more than 2,500 pounds of food for the needy.

Beyond the Paint Brush: While Ariel pursued an Art Education degree, her talents in the Arts go beyond the paint brush. While in High School she was the president of the Theater Club and was a accomplished flutist, in 2012 (her senior year) she was ranked 6th in the nation on flute. Today, she finds joy in ceramics and chose to showcase her vocal abilities in the Miss Illinois Contest by singing “I Know the Truth” from Elton John’s and Tim Rice’s Aida.


Miss Illinois – Ariel Beverly

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @MissAmericaIL


Miss Illinois Scholarship Organization

Facebook @MissIllinoisOrg


Miss America Scholarship Organization

Facebook @MissAmerica


As part of Ariel’s Social Impact initiative she has chosen Arts in Education and will focus her reign as Miss Illinois to advocate for this platform. The official hashtags of this campaign are:



If you have any questions regarding social media for either Miss Illinois 2019, Ariel Beverly or the Miss Illinois Scholarship Organization please call 618.713.2216