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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                         

Contact: John Gillis

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (March 12, 2019) — Emma Lawless, a student at Canby (Oregon) High School, has been selected as the 2019 Section 8 recipient of the “National High School Heart of the Arts Award” by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

The National High School Heart of the Arts Award was created by the NFHS to recognize those individuals who exemplify the ideals of the positive heart of the arts that represent the core mission of education-based activities. This is the sixth year that the National High School Heart of the Arts Award has been offered.

Among the many activities with which Lawless is involved at Canby High School, she is a member of the varsity dance team and the yearbook staff; she sings in the school choir and she is a member of the campus SAFE Club.

Making Lawless’ accomplishments even more impressive is the fact that she was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, a birth defect that affects the growth of limbs. As a result, Lawless was born with only half of her right arm.

While Lawless looks different than other students her age, she has never let this birth defect become a “disability” or hold her back. As a child, she played soccer and lacrosse, and she took dance and gymnastics classes.

During the past 1½ years, Lawless has flourished on the dance team. While it requires a lot of “floor work,” she has never said “I can’t do that” or “That won’t work.” Rather, she has mastered the skill of adapting and finding a way to get it done no matter what. She never wants the choreographer or the coaches to change what they are creating because of her arm.

Last year, the Canby High School team took a class in a Portland, Oregon dance studio. The studio has many large photos of different dancers. One of the dancers depicted in those photos had the “same arm” as Lawless – to which she declared, “Look, it’s me!”

About the Award

The NFHS divides the nation into eight geographical sections. The states in Section 8 are Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Washington and Wyoming.

Nominations for this award were generated through NFHS member state associations and reviewed by the NFHS Heart of the Arts Award Selection Committee composed of state association staff members.

While the national winner will be recognized June 29 at the NFHS Summer Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, the section winners will be recognized within their respective states and will receive awards before the end of the current school year.

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About the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)

The NFHS, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is the national leadership organization for high school sports and fine arts activities. Since 1920, the NFHS has led the development of education-based interscholastic sports and fine arts activities that help students succeed in their lives. The NFHS sets direction for the future by building awareness and support, improving the participation experience, establishing consistent standards and rules for competition, and helping those who oversee high school sports and activities. The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. Through its 50 member state associations and the District of Columbia, the NFHS reaches more than 19,000 high schools and 11 million participants in high school activity programs, including more than 7.9 million in high school sports. As the recognized national authority on interscholastic activity programs, the NFHS conducts national meetings; sanctions interstate events; produces publications for high school coaches, officials and athletic directors; sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, spirit coaches, speech and debate coaches and music adjudicators; serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training; and serves as a national information resource of interscholastic athletics and activities. For more information, visit the NFHS website at

MEDIA CONTACT:                  John Gillis, 317-972-6900

                                                National Federation of State High School Associations

                                                PO Box 690, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206

                                                [email protected]