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A scholar among us: Xiao named national Presidential Scholar

Emma Horsfield, Business Manager

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In 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established by executive order of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Johnson created this program to honor the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

Application for this program is by invitation only. To be eligible for invitation, students must be U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent U.S. Residents by the application deadline, graduate or receive a diploma between January and August of 2018, the current program year and score exceptionally well on either the SAT of the College Board or the ACT of the American College Testing Program.

If students meet these standards, the U.S. Department of Education then looks at test records of the top 30 male and top 30 female examinees in the state and then ranks them from highest to lowest. The top 20 male and female scores are identified as candidates in each state. On top of these 20, each Chief State School Officer (CSSO) may nominate ten male and ten female candidates based on their scholarship. Lastly, the scholars program partners with recognition organizations that will each nominate up to 40 candidates from their individual programs.

After being nominated, candidates must submit a variety of materials such as essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports and transcripts. They are evaluated on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities, along with an analysis of their essay.

At the end of March, about 500 semifinalists are announced, with ranging numbers for each state depending on number of test takers. From this large group, the U.S. Department of Education announced that 161 students from across the country were named the 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars.

Xiao described her reaction, saying, “At 11:52 AM, I was sitting in Study Hall and the notification popped up on my phone. I was really elated and amazed that this had actually happened. When I had applied in January, I had looked at the acceptance rate and given up entirely. I am very honored and still very shocked.”

Since 1983, each U.S. Presidential Scholar has been offered the opportunity to name his or her most influential teacher. Each distinguished teacher is honored with a personal letter from the Secretary of Education. Xiao nominated Dr. Lynne Lundberg, her AP Language and Composition and Humanities teacher and World Food Prize and Environmental Club advisor. Xiao commented on her respect for Lundberg saying, “Dr. L has been more than just a teacher, a mentor, or even a role model; she is the paragon of what it is to have lived life to the fullest.”

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A scholar among us: Xiao named national Presidential Scholar