Published: Mar 05, 2014 6:34 PM EST
Updated: Mar 05, 2014 6:49 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- On Monday night, you can see dozens of Southwest Florida's most talented young performers all in one place.

The Young Artist Awards recognize 22 finalists and 12 runner-up students in areas of drama, singing, dance and music.

It gives them an opportunity to shine, in ways often not offered in their schools.

Sarah Daigle is one of them. She's a finalist this year and a recent graduate of North Fort Myers High School. "It is my passion, I love performing so much," she says.

The showcase provides thousands of dollars in scholarships and gives Southwest Florida's most talented a chance to perform on stage at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre, a stage they grew up watching.

Sarah adds, "I think personally our community doesn't realize how many talented and gifted kids, students there are around here that are in the performing arts."

Dana Alverez is a former finalist, board member, and now a teacher at Oasis Elementary School. She says, "the arts provide an outlet for creativity and expression, and it has shown that people who have experience in public speaking then become more successful in life. It helps teach collaboration and working in a group, taking direction." She says student get unique opportunites they may not find in the classroom, "especially with the pressure of testing, there are a lot of things that get pushed to the sideline as not being important."


There is an extensive audition process, which also teaches the students how to take criticism and learn from professionals. Sarah Daigle knows how important that is- she'll attend the New York Conservatory of Performing Arts in the fall, in part thanks to Young Artist Awards scholarship money. She hopes to make it to broadway someday.

Tickets are still available for Monday night's event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. The show starts at 7 p.m. WINK News anchor Lois Thome will emcee the event. Tickets are $45. For more information, visit http://www.youngartistsawards.org/.