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George Porteous, Zariyah Perry, and Lauren Mei.

3 High School Students Named U.S. Presidential Scholars in Theatre

Lauren Mei, Zariyah Perry, and George Porteous have been recognized for their achievements in theatre.

MIAMI, FLA. and WASHINGTON, D.C.: YoungArts and the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program have announced the 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars, including 20 scholars in the arts. Three of the scholars in the arts have been recognized for their work in theatre.

“The 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts represent the next generation of storytellers and changemakers in our country, exemplifying both academic excellence and artistic ingenuity,” YoungArts president Clive Chang said in a statement. “YoungArts is incredibly proud to celebrate these young artists and to amplify their unique voices as they grow to become our nation’s most influential cultural ambassadors.”

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program honors up to 161 graduating high school students each year. U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts must be YoungArts award winners, and may compete in the fields of classical music, dance, design, film, jazz, photography, theatre, visual arts, voice, or writing. This year, YoungArts selected 702 student award winners and invited 138 finalists to National YoungArts Week in January. YoungArts then recommend 60 candidates to apply to the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, and the Commission on Presidential Scholars named the 20 official arts scholars.

The theatre scholars include Lauren Mei of Orange County School of the Arts in Santa Ana, Calif.; Zariyah Perry of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas; and George Porteous of the Dalton School in New York City.

Other arts scholars include Fallon Dern, Alejandro Lombard, and Cole Willis for film; Zoe Dorado for writing; Raisa Effress, Zakiriya Gladney, and Bayan Yunis for photography; Georgia Greene and Cassidy Reigel for dance; Vibha Janakiraman, Mira Kim, Katherine Liu, and Christopher Shin for classical music; Miranda Lu and Khalil McKnight for visual arts; Sophia Rabin for voice; and Gavin Trotmore for design.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 to recognize and honor the nation’s top high school seniors. The program was expanded to honor students who demonstrate talent in visual, creative, and performing arts in 1979. Scholars are selected annually by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by the president.

YoungArts was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison to identify exceptional young artists, amplify their potential, and invest in their creative freedom. YoungArts provides space, funding, mentorship, professional development, and community to artists between the ages of 15 and 18.

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