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Black Tie International:
2012 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts


U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts award medal


U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts award medal

Photo by: Robert Leslie



U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Announces

2012 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts

20 YoungArts winners named top high-school artists in the nation for their superior academic and artistic achievement, leadership and character


MIAMI, FL (May 2, 2012) -  Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the names of the 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts. These Scholars were nominated by YoungArts, a program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA).  For an artistically talented graduating high school senior, inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon them.  The award is presented on behalf of the President of the United States, and selection is based upon academic, civic and artistic achievement. Each year, 141 U.S. Presidential Scholars are recognized, including up to 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

"The students who are chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts represent the nation's best in the visual, literary and performing arts," says Paul T. Lehr, YoungArts' Executive Director. "Our rigorous program identifies the most talented and well-rounded candidates each year, and I am proud to see our organization play such an essential part in recognizing and developing America's young artists and next generation of leaders."

The 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts will be honored in Washington D.C. together with the rest of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholars during National Recognition Weekend. The Scholars will travel to Washington, DC to meet with government officials, educators, authors, musicians and other accomplished individuals. To commemorate their achievement the Scholars are awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion in a White House-sponsored ceremony.  The artists and writers will exhibit their works at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Sunday, June 17, and perform at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, June 18.

To be selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, candidates must participate in and receive a nomination from YoungArts. Each year, YoungArts receives up to 5,000 applications for its national program. After a rigorous adjudication process, the organization nominates 60 YoungArts finalists for further consideration to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Finally, the Commission on Presidential Scholars, whose members are appointed by the President, select up to 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts each year. YoungArts is the exclusive path to the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts awards.

The 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts join an illustrious group which includes Tony Award- nominated dancer and choreographer Desmond Richardson, American Ballet Theatre Executive Director Rachel Moore, novelist and National Book Award Finalist Allegra Goodman, Grammy Award-nominated violinist Jennifer Koh, BRAVO?s Work of Art winner Abdi Farah, and OBIE Award-winning actress Donna Lynne Champlin.

This year's U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts represent eleven states and nine artistic disciplines including cinematic arts, dance, jazz, music, photography, theater, voice, visual arts and writing.  For a complete list, please see below.  Photos and bios are available upon request. Interviews can be facilitated.


The 2012 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts are:






Nicole Acton

Interlochen, MI

Writing ? Short Story

Interlochen Arts Academy

Michelle Ang

Fairfield, CA

Theater ? Spoken

School of the Arts

Alex Beyer

Fairfield, CT

Music ? Piano

Fairfield Warde High School

Nadia Cook-Loshilov

Brooklyn, NY

Theater ? Spoken

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Brannon Dorsey

Richmond, VA


Appomattox Regional Governor?s School for the Arts and Technology

Bryan Duerfeldt

Bloomington, MI

Music ? Recorder/Woodwinds

Thomas Jefferson Senior High School

Daniel Frantz

Downingtown, PA

Cinematic Arts

Downingtown High School West Campus

Kamry Goodwin

Greenville, SC

Writing ? Short Story

South Carolina Governor?s School for the Arts & Humanities

Kimberly Hou

Arlington, VA

Music ? Piano

Home Schooled

Martin Jaffe

Conway, MA

Jazz ? Double Bass

Northfield Mount Hermon

Kelley Kessell

Cutler Bay, FL

Voice ? Popular

New World School of the Arts

Amanda Krische

Brooklyn, NY

Dance ? Modern

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

Kelsey Lauritano

San Francisco, CA

Voice ?

Mezzo Soprano

School of the Arts

Michael Leadbetter

Rochester, NY

Theater ?

Spoken and Musical

Greece Athena High School

Da?Shawn Mosley

Greenville, SC

Writing ? Creative Non-Fiction

South Carolina Governor?s School for the Arts & Humanities

Taylor Rodman

Coppell, TX

Dance ? Choreography

Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts

Laila Smith

San Jose, CA

Voice ? Jazz

Marin School of the Arts at Novato High School

Jessica Suhr

Miami, FL

Visual Arts

New World School of the Arts

Emma Townley-Smith

Aliso Viejo, CA

Writing ? Short Story

Orange County High School of the Arts

Lathan Vargason

Lewisport, KY

Visual Arts

Hancock County High School


About YoungArts:

YoungArts is the core program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts (NFAA) and the signature national program that that recognizes and supports America's most talented young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts. The organization's mission is to identify emerging artists, provide educational enrichment and assistance in their pursuit of the arts, and to raise the appreciation for and support of the arts in American society. Dedicated to inspiring and nurturing young artists, YoungArts was founded in 1981 by businessman and visionary, the late Ted Arison, and his wife Lin. The program identifies the next generation of emerging artists and contributes to the cultural vitality of the nation by investing in the artistic development of thousands of gifted artists in nine disciplines in the visual, literary and performing arts. At the request of The Commission on Presidential Scholars, which is appointed by the President of the United States, YoungArts is the exclusive path to the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

Joyce Brooks

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