Estes named Alabama Arts Alliance Legislator of the Year

State Representative Tracy Estes accepts his award after being named the Alabama Arts Alliance’s Legislator of the Year. (Courtesy photo)

BIRMINGHAM - Rep. Tracy Estes (R-Winfield) has been honored by the Alabama Arts Alliance as the statewide organization’s Legislator of the Year, based on his dedication to arts education in schools and his love and devotion to the students served as a result.
The second-term lawmaker was recognized in a banquet setting at the Red Mountain Theater in Birmingham on Thursday, March 14, before being asked to address the membership at the annual conference the following morning.
“How many times is a lawmaker recognized simply for loving on his students?,’’ Estes responded when asked about being selected. “Naturally, I do not make every single artistic event in House District 17 due to scheduling conflicts, but I certainly attempt to honor each invitation. I love my students and I cherish the opportunity to witness their exploration of their personal talents and gifts.’’

The award is presented to the lawmaker who has consistently advocated and supported the arts culture sector and arts education in Alabama. Estes was nominated by the Hamilton arts community, the students and parents.
Alabama Arts Alliance Executive Director Donna Russell commended Estes for his dedication to arts education, as did state alliance board chairman Melissa Hughey and Hamilton Middle School Assistant Principal and Arts Coordinator Benja Jackson.
“The arts community in Hamilton is so blessed to have the support of Rep. Estes,’’ Jackson said. “We believe he embodies all that a legislator should be. Rep. Estes has been a strong supporter of the children and the arts program since its inception. There has never been a time when he did not respond to an invitation or a request for financial assistance.
“His support is visible and tangible, as he has attended every performance, speaking in support of the arts and sharing the benefits it has for both the children and community alike: Improving education, quality of life and serving as a recruitment tool for business and industry. He always takes the time to speak with the students and their parents, sharing words of encouragement and praise following their performance and is, often, one of the last ones to leave following the performance.’’
Presenting the award at the ceremony, Hughey offered her own heartfelt remarks.
“This is really a love letter to a politician,’’ Hughey began. “Most of you would never say that, but you don’t have Tracy Estes as your representative. He serves House District 17, but he is Hamilton’s representative and we love him. He truly is an advocate for children. In our first performance, he even served in our community chorus. No matter what, he always comes. He sits in the front row and he tells those parents how blessed they are to have this program.
“He and his wife Christina sit on the front row and they lead the standing ovations. And the children notice and are surprised at how a person in his position can be so supportive. We need to have arts education supported the way our representative does. Tracy, we love you and our community loves you.’’
Since taking office in 2018, the legislator has established a reputation for visiting local schools all across the district on a regular basis, including athletic, academic and artistic events. His service also includes periodic stops in his schools simply to visit with administrators, teachers and students. He often accepts invitations to speak to full classrooms about the importance of school attendance, participation and how various levels of government operate.
In his acceptance speech, Estes stressed his personal love for his students, “all 8,101 of them,’’ as the legislator represents four school districts: Marion County, Lamar County, Haleyville City and Winfield City. He stressed the importance of arts education, as these opportunities often reach students who otherwise would not participate in extracurricular activities.
“The arts often allow students to discover a part of themselves they never knew existed,’’ Estes added. “They find or expand on talents rarely, if ever, used while opening the doors to opportunities at their current age and for years to come These students are changed by the arts, gain strength and confidence from their time on stage and in front of large audiences. Changes and improvements in their lives due to arts education may never fully be measured. And allow me to express my love and appreciation to my teachers who lead my students through this wonderful journey.’’

See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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