For Immediate Release
November 20, 2007

Illinois State Board of Education honors winners of first homeless education poster contest

Seventh-grader highlights impact of homelessness on families, children and youth

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recognized the importance of homeless education in Illinois by honoring the winners of the 2007 Homeless Education Poster Contest at an awards luncheon today in Springfield. Ce-Onna Bailey, a seventh-grader at Pleasant Valley Middle School in Peoria, was chosen as the winner of ISBE’s first homeless education contest.

“The artwork entered in this year’s competition was outstanding. It is unique to see a student’s perspective on this important issue,” said State Superintendent Christopher Koch. “The education of our homeless children is a priority for the State Board of Education. Regardless of why or where students may be homeless, they have a right to go to school.”

Students in fifth through 12th grade were invited to participate in the first statewide art poster contest focusing on homelessness and its impact on families, children, and youth in education. The contest was held in conjunction with National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, which was November 11 – 17, 2007.

Ce-Onna’s color pencil entry depicted her view of the plight of homelessness. The poster shows in great detail the various living arrangements available to the homeless.

Each of the three top winners will receive an award pin, their posters framed, plus tickets for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield. The first-place winner also receives a $750 savings bond, while second-place and third-place winners receive a $500 savings bond and $350 savings bond, respectively.

The 2007 Homeless Education Poster Contest winners and honorees includes:

The Illinois State Board of Education has also made training school personnel to compassionately identify students as homeless a priority. Data collected by local school districts in 2006 indicated approximately 18,000 students in Illinois schools were homeless. However, based upon the most current research methodology, and the 750,000 students who receive free or reduced price lunches, it is estimated that the number is more likely 60,000 homeless students in Illinois.

Additional information on homeless education issues can be accessed at or by calling the Illinois State Board of Education Information Hotline at 800-215-6379.