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Sep 29, 2014 01:21 PM EDT

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has created a new awards program to honor high school students across Illinois, school officials announced.

"Celebrating High School Innovators," will recognize and celebrate students' innovative, creative or inspirational contributions in the following areas: Arts, Media, and Literature, Business Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Food, Health, & Nutrition, and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

"These are not necessarily the students with perfect test scores or a 4.0 [grade point average], but those whose curiosity, creativity, passion, and dedication have led them to change their communities and have inspired those around them to do the same," according to the university's website.

The 100 competition finalists will have their achievements recognized in a first-of-its-kind celebration at the University of Illinois, where they will be hosted for a two day event designed by students.

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 In attendance will be innovative professionals in each of the areas, along with high-level university and government officials. Finalists will have the opportunity to network with other student innovators from their area of interest, be profiled in a book of young innovators, and become a part of a statewide study into how to better encourage innovation in our school systems.

"Our two-day event in the spring of 2015 will bring together some of the most innovative high school students in the state, giving them the chance to network with other young minds and highly innovative professionals, engage in projects together, speak with high-level university and government officials about their ideas, and gain insight into resources available to them across the state," school officials said.

Students who believe they have implemented innovative ideas in their communities can fill out an application at They are also required to complete the one-page form on the website and write a 1,000-word statement explaining who they are, what they have done in one of the five project areas, and why it matters.

Applications will be accepted through Dec. 1, 2014.

For more information on this awards program, visit

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