Pencil drawing hanging in staircase
Student Recognition
Update for 2020-2021

The Minnesota Scholars of Distinction Award Program has nurtured and recognized distinguished achievement by highly motivated, self-directed students since 2005. During the 2020-2021 school year the program will pause for a review of all areas, including theater arts. During this time, the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and Perpich Center for Arts Education will examine criteria, access, and opportunity for each category. Please stay tuned to this page and the MDE page for updated information in early summer 2021. Thank you!

Student Recognition

Scholars of Distinction Awards may be earned in the following areas:

  • Leadership
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Science, Technology, Engeering, Mathmetics (STEM)
  • Theater Arts



This is a program of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) that nurtures and recognizes distinguished achievement by highly motivated students. The program extends student learning of Minnesota’s rigorous standards to an even greater degree of specialization and complexity. Each award area was developed through partnerships of educators, the business community and others.

To earn this recognition, students must complete required work in the Minnesota Academic Standards, demonstrate mastery of complex subject matter and apply their knowledge to challenging projects. Students may pursue one or more area of focus in any or all years of their K-12 education. Students are awarded in the areas of leadership, mathematics, social studies, science, STEM and theater arts.

Perpich Center for Arts Education partners with MDE to provide the Theater Arts area awards, which is outlined below. Other award areas and submission requirements for students and schools can be found on the MDE website.


The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards attract more than 90,000 teens in grades seven through 12 from around the nation who annually submit more than 185,000 works of art and writing in 28 categories. Winning students earn opportunities for recognition, national exhibition, publication and scholarships. The Perpich Center helps sponsor statewide endeavors of the program. Perpich hosted the state-level exhibition of student work for the 2013 school year in its visual arts gallery. More information about the awards program, which was 90 years old in 2013, is available on the Scholastic Art and Writing website.


Perpich has been increasingly involved in the annual regional and statewide fine arts competition sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League. The League is a voluntary, nonprofit association of public and private schools with a history of service to Minnesota’s high school youth since 1916. Today, nearly 500 schools are members of the League. Most – about 435 – are high schools. The remainder are either special schools or home schools. These member schools provide opportunities for athletics and fine arts competition for more than 200,000 high school students statewide each year.

The annual fine arts competition is handled through a series of regional shows open to all Minnesota students that culminate in a statewide show in May of the best of the regional competition, art created in both two dimensions and three dimensions using a variety of media. Perpich has for many years hosted one of the regional shows and twice took on the responsibility of hosting the final statewide exhibition.


Theater Arts Award Category recognizes excellence in Minnesota’s top theater students and is co-sponsored by Perpich Center for Arts Education and MDE and supported by the Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota. The initiative is open to 11th and 12th grade theater students willing to commit the time and dedication required to excel.

The designation Scholars of Distinction in Theater recognizes high school juniors and seniors who demonstrate outstanding knowledge, skills, and creativity in theater arts. The program grants awards to students who can show extraordinary accomplishment in one or more of the following areas of theater: acting, playwriting, design and technical theater, or directing.

Applicants will be required to submit a portfolio, which will include an artistic statement, a resume, work samples, and letters of recommendation. They will also design and present a culminating artistic project that displays expertise in their chosen area of theater arts.

Students who apply will demonstrate:

  • substantive knowledge in one of four major areas of theater;
  • ability to pursue theatrical creation and performance;
  • clear understanding of theatrical quality standards;
  • understanding of relationships between theater arts and other disciplines;
  • ability to apply theatrical knowledge to practical theatrical situations;
  • ability to effectively communicate theatrical knowledge and practice;
  • ability to interact with others in a theatrical context.

For more information concerning the Scholars of Distinction in Theater Arts program contact Outreach Services.

Female cast of theater production