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W.Va. Public School Students Named Presidential Scholar Semifinalists

May 01, 2009

CHARLESTON, W.Va. Three West Virginia public school students have been named United States Presidential Scholars semifinalists, one of the nation's highest honors for high school seniors.  

Brian Chen of University High School in Monongalia County; Erica Shen of George Washington High School in Kanawha County; and Jonathan Turner of Fairmont Senior High School, Marion County; are among six West Virginia semi-finalists for 2009. Three others attend private schools. Two of the six students will be selected as scholars.  

“These students should be commended for their hard work and dedication,” said state Schools Superintendent Steve Paine. “This achievement will open the door to numerous educational opportunities and I wish them continued success.”  

About 560 students were identified as semifinalists from nearly 2.8 million graduating high school seniors from across the country. The semifinalists were chosen for their academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, service and contribution to school and community.  

Those who are named Presidential Scholars will receive an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. during National Recognition Week and will be awarded the Presidential Scholars medallion. The four-day celebration includes educational seminars, meetings with representatives of the three branches of government, a morning of community service, an exhibition of scholars’ artwork and a public performance in the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center by the Presidential Scholars in the Arts. Winners also are scheduled to meet with the president.  

The Presidential Scholars program was established in 1964 to honor academic achievement and was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. It does not carry any monetary award.  

Since 1983, scholars also have invited their most inspirational teacher to travel with them to Washington, D.C., to participate in events. The teachers also receive a Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Education.

For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699.

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