YoungArts Announces Finalists from NWSA

four students

YoungArts has announced five more Finalists from New World School of the Arts this year, bringing the total number of NWSA Finalists to 114 since 2002. The accomplished NWSA winners include Yuniel Betancourt, dance; Lucas Buckwell, theater; Tiara Farquharson, theater; Saige Hoffman, music and Dalila Lugo, music.

The students, recognized by faculty and peers for their remarkable talent in their respective arts divisions, also excel in academics ranking among the highest in their graduating class of 2023. The students’ community engagement, despite their demanding academic curricula and artistic training is also noteworthy, placing them among the most passionate and driven at NWSA. “Students who attend New World School of the Arts find themselves in a highly stressful and competitive environment: five academic classes plus three hours of training in their art each day,” explained Pamela Cabarcos, NWSA High School Guidance Counselor. “Faced with long commutes, demanding arts and academic classes, and after-school rehearsals, students often spend 12 to 14 hours a day in school related activities.”

Yuniel Betancourt, who will be a first-generation college student, has mastered his craft, reaching high technical and artistic levels. “Yuniel is driven, hardworking, friendly, and expressive,” said Ms. Cabarcos. “His can-do attitude has allowed him to design a future that will enhance his community for generations to come. He is mature and focused on his future as a dancer.”

Headshot of Yuniel Betancourt

“I have put in countless hours and energy into dance and it feels great to be recognized for it! Getting to be a part of a community and learning/growing with the resources needed is what makes YoungArts so special. It is more than just a title or award – it means so much more to me and my heart.”

Yuniel Betancourt

“I’m humbled and excited about this opportunity to learn from professionals and to expose myself to different views on dance,” said Yuniel. “I thank New World School of the Arts for all that they have done for me. The dance teachers really gave me tools that I needed to grow and succeed. I am constantly evolving and learning and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. They taught me and supported my technical knowledge and encouraged my creativity.”

A dance student at NWSA since the tenth grade, Yuniel choreographed for the NWSA student showcase and won the Choreographer Award in 2022. He also performed in the American National Dance Festival in Pittsburgh, Dancemakers for the past two years. In addition, Yuniel performed as a background dancer for the Latin American boy band, CNCO at the Premio Lo Nuestro 2020; this performance was viewed by thousands of people in Latin America and in our country.

Headshot of Lucas Buckwell

As a YoungArts Finalist in the Design Arts category, Lucas Buckwell, currently in the theater division, would like to pursue a career in fashion design upon graduation. “New World School of the Arts has given me the tools to be successful in my future endeavors by showing me how visual arts, performing arts, and academics overlap,” said Lucas. “I plan to attend university next year to pursue both design and my love of philosophy, in a multidisciplinary learning environment similar to the one I have come to know at NWSA.” Lucas has been taking design classes outside of NWSA since his sophomore year to help prepare him for a future in this field.

“Being a YoungArts Finalist means having the opportunity to grow as an artist using all the amazing resources the YoungArts foundation has to offer. I am incredibly excited to learn from my experience in YoungArts week.”

Lucas Buckwell

Ms. Cabarcos credits Lucas’ innate leadership skills and empathetic personality for his many accomplishments. She notes, “In addition to spending time giving children confidence through theater work by volunteering with Curtain Call Kids, Lucas has combined his compassion and ambition to work on his own project – Beaumont Clothes for Good. Through this organization, Lucas gives back to the community by raising money selling tote bags to fight for better working conditions in the garment industry.”

Headshot of Tiara Farquharson

A theater student, Tiara Farquharson was selected YoungArts Finalist after her performance of two monologues – one from Lindsey Ferrentino’s The Orphans and the other from Hamlet by William Shakespeare, a playwright she learned to appreciate through her role as “Sir Toby Belch” in the schools’ production of Twelfth Night. Tiara, who would like to become an actress for the silver screen, gives credit to NWSA for this accomplishment.

“Without New World, I would not have this monumental honor. New World School of the Arts brought YoungArts to my attention while also giving me the training and techniques to achieve this award.”

Tiara Farquharson

In addition to excelling in her chosen field of artistic focus at NWSA, Tiara is an active member of Save Our Shores, where she focused on cleaning the beaches at least once a month. She also participates with Youth Encounter and the Mindfulness Club. During her sophomore year, Tiara participated in the Debate Club and highlighted that she “truly enjoys the thought and research that it takes to prepare for debate.”

“Tiara takes every opportunity to play roles at school, said Ms. Cabarcos, “She is very articulate in her acting and her confidence shines through in her performances. Theater is in the fiber of her being. Tiara is kind, generous, driven, and courageous. She has been faced with many life challenges, yet she remains resilient. Tiara firmly believes that she can thrive in even the most challenging circumstances.” Upon graduation, she hopes to attend NYC’s The Juilliard School, Chapman, or a school abroad such as The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, in England to continue her studies in acting.

Saige Hoffman

Saige Hoffman, a 2022 high school graduate from the NWSA music division, is currently enrolled at Oberlin College where continues to study voice performance. Her long-term goals include a Ph.D., specifically in vocal pedagogy and eventually, she would like to teach future generation of musicians in a university setting.
“The NWSA music division aims to deliver a comprehensive music education.  This year, Saige Hoffman, a recent NWSA high school voice graduate, was named a 2023 YoungArts Winner. I view this achievement as an opportunity to not only celebrate the accomplishment, but also to recognize that when students apply themselves to achieve greatness, in part by implementing skills acquired at NWSA, they can continue achieving beyond graduation. Saige is an example of discipline practiced and persevered, coupled with talent and hard work.  We are proud of Saige and all NWSA’s recognized recipients” said Dr. Daniel Andai, Dean of Music at NWSA.

NWSA vocalist Dalila Lugo, a high-achieving music student, is also the soprano section leader at the school, organizing rehearsals and ensuring the section knows their music well. “I have the privilege of attending a school where I have received constant support and appreciation, not only from my academic teachers who make time to attend solo concerts, but also from my choir director, Dr. Denning, and private teacher, Dr. Barrera. They have always encouraged me to put my best foot forward for the sake of my craft and education,” said Dalila.

Her artistic accomplishments and accolades extend well beyond New World School of the Arts, having won 1st place awards in both the Schmidt High School Region Georgia and the Florida Gold Coast National Association of Teachers Competitions this year. At NWSA, Dalila won the Concerto Competition Winners’ Concert as a junior in the NWSA high school program. In this concert, Dalila competed with New World School of the Arts high school and college vocalists and instrumentalists.

Headshot of Dalila Lugo

“My past three years at New World School of the Arts have required much discipline, sacrifice, and above all passion for my craft. I can see how that extra effort and total commitment have resulted in achieving the highest of honors: being selected as a YoungArts Finalist.”

Dalila Lugo

According to Ms. Cabarcos, “Dalila can transport you to different places and move your emotions with only her voice. I heard her do a musical theater piece where she sang from the perspective of three different characters – one in jazz, one classical and one musical theater. She moved effortlessly through these genres expressing the quality of each character’s voice and expressing personality. It was simply amazing!”

Honorable Mention students include Ryan Kaplan, jazz; Lucas Netto, jazz; and Raquel Lebish, theater.
Merit students include Aviva Harris, dance; Milla Matallana, film (NWSA dance); Ryan Goodman, jazz; Jordan McAllister, jazz; Lucas Netto, jazz; Enzo Pulley, jazz; Sabrina Mulroy, voice; Nicole Molina, visual arts; Carlota Montero, visual arts; Arysmel Rodriguez, visual arts; Tatiana Solano, visual arts.

YoungArts award winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for artists in the United States in which they will have opportunities for financial, creative, and professional development support throughout their entire careers. YoungArts award winners at all levels will receive cash prizes between $100 and $10,000 and the opportunity to learn from leading artists in the various artistic fields recognized by YoungArts. In addition, YoungArts Finalists are invited to participate in National YoungArts Week, January 8-15, 2023, featuring virtual classes, workshops, and mentorship from leading artists in their fields as well as virtual performances and an exhibition for the public. Finalists are also eligible to be nominated to become a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, one of the highest honors given high school seniors bestowed by the President of the United States.

A Florida center of excellence in the visual and performing arts, New World School of the Arts is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College, and University of Florida. NWSA provides a comprehensive program of artistic, creative, and academic development through a curriculum that reflects our community and the rich multicultural state of Florida. Through our partners NWSA confers the high school diploma, Associate of Arts degree, and Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees in programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, Music, Theater and Art & Design. NWSA’s rigorous eight-year curriculum and conservatory-style teaching has empowered students in our community and our nation to become leaders in the arts for more three decades.

Information about New World School of the Arts at 305-237-3135 or